Kids app 'translates' grown-up paper into child-friendly articles

Screenshot of Dentsu The app is held over the newspaper, and uses augmented reality to animate the page

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An augmented-reality app that "translates" grown-up newspapers for children has been developed in Japan.

The Tokyo Shimbun, one of the country's biggest daily titles, has worked with advertising firm Dentsu to create the AR News software.

It allows children to hold a smartphone over the newspaper to see a child-friendly version of the text.

In a promotional video, Dentsu said the app could "create a future for the old media newspaper".

"Newspapers were not made for children," the clip said.

"If newspapers became readable to children, they will contribute to family communication and child's education."

'Educational tool'

The demo video shows a father laying a newspaper out on a table as the child holds his smartphone over the page. Cartoon characters appear on the screen, explaining stories and drawing attention to important words.

"Difficult articles and social problems, economy and politics became interesting subjects for children," Dentsu said.

"The newspapers became a media read by both parent and child. And also an educational tool for children."

Paul Bradshaw, university lecturer and blogger on new technology in journalism, told the BBC he was impressed with the idea.

"What it's really about is something that's been talked about for a long time, about content being presented in different ways depending on who the user is," he said.

"It means two versions of the content - a grown-up one and the kids one. That has enormous potential. It also tackles a big gap in young readership.

"Are kids going to be interested in the same subjects as adults, even when treated differently? That's a nut to crack."

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