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This UW ad in Friday’s paper comes to live with the Aurasma app.

Many out there believe print media is doomed, and that no one needs to pick up a newspaper when everything is available for free — well, sometimes — on the Internet.

But what about something that combines a little bit of both worlds? The University of Washington Athletics Department is trying just that with a new ad campaign that’s centered around our smartphones and augmented reality.

Turn to page three of Friday’s Seattle Times’ sports section and you’ll find a UW football ad on the lower right corner. It looks fairly normal — until you hover over it using an app called Aurasma.

The San Francisco-based startup has built an app that allows brands to create content that can become much more robust with the help of a smartphone.

Here’s how it works. Once you download that app, you have to “follow” the UW Athletics channel so that the app can recognize the print ad. From there, all you do is hover over the print product and the content immediately changes.

aurasma This is UW’s first try with Aurasma, and it’s relatively simple. The print ad essentially just turns into a short video with some music. You can check out the video above for a better idea.

Daniel Hour, Manager of New Media & Recruiting Services at for UW Athletics, said that the school actually partnered with Aurasma back in 2010 but never got anything going because the pieces weren’t quite in place to execute.

But the time was right to do it now, and the department is excited to start something fresh.

“The reason I’ve been so infatuated with this company and this technology for so long, is because it did something that QR codes and scanners/etc never did — it brought a physical piece of being into the digital world,” Hour said of Aurasma. “Basically, it brought an inanimate piece of paper to life, if done correctly.”

aurasmaUWThe UW is using the initial ad as a test launch of sorts. If it finds that fans are ready for the technology and it’s easy for them to access, they’ll put more weight behind it as the football season approaches in September.

“People are inundated with ads everyday, so how can we change that experience from just glazing over an ad to actually interacting with it — and even more, being genuinely amazed and stunned by it,” Hour said. “We’re turning that ad experience from something mundane to a true awesome experience with the UW.”

The one slight hiccup I see with this idea is that those of us tech-savvy enough to download Aurasma, find the UW Athletics page to “like,” and eventually scan the print advertisement with our phones are likely not reading print journalism in the first place.

Hour himself said he bought his first newspaper ever today to test out the new technology.

Regardless, it’s still pretty cool, and the school seems to be targeting its geeky crowd with this anyways. If there was an easier, more seamless way of doing it, that would help. Perhaps the athletic department can unveil this technology it for game-day programs, or even on paper tickets.

Previously on GeekWire: Washington’s Steve Sarkisian is the fifth most popular coach on Twitter 

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