Esquire's Cover of the Future Stumbles Over Piece of Paper

Helpful Hint for Readers: Just Peel Off the Label

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As if the U.S. Postal Service's rate hikes weren't bad enough. Now traditional delivery is getting in the way of technological innovation meant to bring print into the 24th (and a half) century.

Esquire, as you may or may not know, has published an issue full of augmented-reality capabilities that will make, for example, cover star Robert Downey Jr. pop off the cover on your computer screen. See, what you do is you take the magazine and hold up the cover to a webcam and then Carrie Fisher jumps out with an urgent plea for Obi Won Kenobi to bring her some codeine and a fifth of vodka. Or something. As Gawker pointed out this morning, subscribers' mailing labels cover up the symbol that triggers the whole thing in the first place.

But it's OK. The labels peel right off. And the symbol appears again inside if your label is particularly stubborn. The five minutes it takes to download the A/R software and the traumatic memories of CueCat, on the other hand .. .

But it reminds you how complicated innovation can be. When Esquire published magazines' first cover with electronic ink on its October 2008 issue, it took 16 months of work and refrigerated trucks to protect the batteries from any extreme heat.

Compared to all that, actually, peeling a label doesn't sound so bad. Now we just have to buy a webcam.

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