Esquire magazine has jumped on the augmented reality bandwagon. David Granger, Editor, introduces Esquire?s first augmented reality issue, and Robert Downey,Jr. of Iron Man fame welcomes you via an Augmented Reality segment.

The 76-year old magazine was originally designed as a racy-content periodical for men. Over its 76 years, Esquire has featured pinups and quality literary pieces by such giants as Hemingway and Fitzgerald. A former staffer, Hugh Hefner, spun off in 1953 and founded another male-directed magazine, originally tagged "Stag Party." You know it better as Playboy.

Eyeball 1.3MPixel WebcamA special barcode-like image on Esquire?s magazine cover sets the stage for the AR action. Of course, you?ll need a webcam. You can win a webcam if you don?t already have one. Esquire is partnering with Blue Microphones to put 50 Eyeball 1.0 webcams into their readers? hands. The cam is 1.3 megapixel video with HD-quality audio and works with both PCs and Macs. Interestingly though, we noticed that female journalists are starting to use Eyeball webcamera as their tool – instead of old-fashioned voice recorder. It plugs directly into a USB port without requiring drivers. Generous, but self promoting, the mic company, who recently announced Eye 2.0 [October 2009], is probably clearing old inventory.

One enhanced monthly feature in the magazine is Funny Jokes from a Beautiful Woman. Gillian Jacobs comes alive via augmented reality in this issue. If you come back later, as the time changes, so does the joke. You won?t miss out entirely if you don?t have the magazine and a web cam. You can read some of her jokes online, but you?ll need the AR version to access the promised "dirty joke." A teaser says the joke features a bar and an alligator. Go figure.

In another AR segment, actor Jeremy Renner is changing outfits – no nudity here – to highlight the magazine?s foray into men?s fashions. Granger brought fashion consciousness with him from GQ, a publication which emphasizes style. Renner changes clothes according to the weather, which the reader controls by rotating the magazine in front of the monitor.

Jacobs, a Julliard graduate with a tad of experience doing Shakespeare, currently stars as Britta with Chevy Chase in the TV comedy, The Community. Being in Esquire, is not so far afield as you might think. The magazine itself combines culture, comedy, and sex. Renner seems to fit the magazine?s profile also. His talents range from comedy, National Lampoon’s Senior Trip, to portraying a man?s man, as Sgt. William James, a bomb disposal expert in excellent thriller The Hurt Locker.

In addition to his AR appearance, Downey has been busy on the big screen: Iron Man 2, Sherlock Holmes, and Tropic Thunder which garnered him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He stars in the upcoming comedy, Due Date. A complete Esquire interview is available on line.

Augmented Reality ad for Lexus in the new Esquire magazine

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A star of a different kind, Lexus, can be seen in an AR segment in November?s Esquire showing off their HS hybrid model. Following on the heels of McDonald?s legal problems over spilt hot coffee, Lexus, to also protect themselves from the irresponsible public, has added an on-line disclaimer regarding use and dependence on their Driver Attention Monitor and the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

To experience the new Esquire yourself, download the AR software. First, you have to agree not to mess with the copyrighted or licensed product from Hearst Communications who has owned the publication since 1983.

To run the software, you?ll hold the front cover up to your web cam and follow the prompts. You?ll need a newer computer with one free gigabyte of RAM, running Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7, with a dedicated, non integrated GPU, and a webcam that properly implements DirectShow Capture API. The Mac environment requires OX 10.5 Leopard, featuring Intel processors and ATI/nVidia graphics and a webcam that properly implements QTKit Capture API.

A previous Esquire issue ventured into the world of technology as well. A limited edition in September, 2008 was printed in part with electronic ink, which produced moving words and flashing images. You can retrieve a sample via video at esquire.com.

Since Playboy is rumored to be looking for a buyer after decreasing profits, it remains to be seen if venturing into augmented reality will boost sales and keep Esquire around for another three quarters of a century.