The Peekster app enables readers to scan a printed news article, find its digital version and share it easily online with their social circles.

Peekster creates a bridge between print and digital Media

Reading print media articles does not fit particularly well with today’s mobile online reading habits. When people read printed material they cannot share it directly with others on the social networks unless they first undertake a time-consuming search for it on the Internet. Meanwhile mobile apps have drastically changed our reading habits. The Pocket app, for example, allows you to save all types of digital content so that you can look at it later. Now however some developers are working to make printed and digital material more complementary. Peekster, a startup which recently graduated from the Wayra UK bootcamp, has launched an app which creates a bridge between the paper version of an article and its electronic version using scanning and optical character recognition technology, together with an intuitive interface incorporating all the main social networks so that you can share information with your friends more easily.

A new shared reading experience

When you want to share a news article that you have read in print, all you have to do is to open the app and take a photo of the article’s title or part of the text. “We can make your reading experience so much better just by making a simple tap on the screen,” proclaims the Peekster site. The app uses an algorithm to analyse the printed letters and go find the corresponding digital version of the article in the database of the publication in question. The company’s ultimate aim is to build an online marketplace which allows readers to buy individual articles rather than having to pay for a whole offline (or online) publication. “If a user reads an article about an event which interests him/her and wants to find other sources on the same subject, scanning with Peekster means s/he can find and buy individual articles with just one purchase,” explains the startup’s co-founder and CEO Tine Hamler.

Ongoing app development

The app, which was launched in November, is available on the App Store and soon will be on other platforms. At the moment the system supports only major UK publications such as The Guardian and The Times. “We haven’t set up any official partnerships yet. For the moment we want to grow our user base and then become a useful partner for publishers,” revealed Hamler. The London-based startup quite logically decided to start with the UK market and is now looking to develop its business in other markets which are a good fit, such as the United States. The Peekster team is planning a further update of the app and is meanwhile continuing to work on the algorithm in order to enhance the performance of the article search based on scanning technology.

By Eliane HONG