Nestled amongst a set of postage stamps celebrating Great British Railways is a world's first. The UK's Royal Mail calls it an "intelligent stamp" and pointing a smartphone camera at it delivers exclusive online content to the screen. The first piece of enhanced content features a special poetry reading by actor Bernard Cribbins.
After downloading a free Junaio augmented reality app onto an Android or OS4 smartphone, users simply point the camera at the special stamp included in the Great British Railways special stamps issue. This then triggers the app's image recognition technology to launch some exclusive online content created by the Royal Mail.
In this case it's national favorite Bernard Cribbins, who starred in the 1970 film The Railway Children, reading a poem first featured in a film from the Post Office in 1936. The content was itself filmed on the set of Railway Children Live at Waterloo Station.
Cribbins said: "WH Auden wrote the 'Night Mail' poem in 1936 for the Post Office's own blockbuster film of the same name, which has, for years, remained in the hearts and minds of many. I'm excited to be bringing it to a brand new audience, and to help take Royal Mail Stamps into a new era by using state of the art interactive technology."
According to the Royal Mail's Philip Parker: "This is the first time a national postal service has used this kind of technology on their stamps. Intelligent stamps mark the next step in the evolution of our stamps, bringing them firmly into the 21st century. Through Intelligent Stamp technology, our stamps will open up to a whole new world of information, interest and fun to collectors and the millions of people who will receive them on letters in the coming months alike."
The Royal Mail plans to include the technology in future special stamp issues. More information is available on the company's Stamps and Collecting website.