Marvel comic books are scheduled to make their complete appearance on mobile devices in June 2012, when Marvel will start offering those who purchase any super hero comic book (priced at $3.99) an exact digital-copy of the same book, available on both Android and iOS devices. Slightly late to the tablet show, Marvel has plans for a major impact (they call it the Marvel ReEvolution), with Marvel execs recently announcing that they will soon release an augmented reality app called Marvel AR. The (highly interesting) app was announced a couple of days back, at South by Southwest Interactive, the same event in Austin, Texas where Instagram for Android and Angry Birds Space were officially announced.

In a nutshell, the Marvel AR app (soon to become available on Android as well as Apple’s iOS) will allow you to uncover exclusive digital content, as long as you’ve also got the physical book in front of you. If the demo is anything to go by, the Marvel AR app will be nothing short of impressive, even if you are not the Iron Man’s biggest fan (but you are, right?).

The first comic book to receive this bonus, digital, augmented-reality content will be Marvel’s upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men #1 Infinite. According to Marvel officials, the exclusive content is similar to the DVD extras that a blockbuster movie usually features: “The AR app will show readers what the editor was thinking, what the writer was thinking, 3D extras, and pencil art”. But the really interesting part (as far as Android tech blog readers are concerned) is the way the app brings up that content, rather than the content itself.

Powered by Aurasma’s augmented reality technology, the Marvel AR app uses the camera lens on your device to detect unique points of recognition in the pages of the physical book, in a similar way to the way QR code-reading works. Once those points are detected, the app will bring up content that augments the page you are looking at through the camera lens.

For instance, one of the most impressive moments in the demo I previously mentioned involved a 3D model of Iron Man coming out of the comic book’s pages, taking off, and then landing back in front of the page. The part that really blew me off was how the user could angle and move the tablet, to catch a better glimpse of the animation. It’s really as if Iron Man was actually there, except that… well, he wasn’t. Here are a couple of videos that showcase exactly what I’m talking about:

The only downside, as mentioned by CNET’s Seth Rosenblatt, is that you’ll have to hover your tablet over each page in search for this exclusive content, but I guess playing a little detective shouldn’t be that much of a daunting task for comic book fans.

What do you guys think about the Marvel AR app? If you’re a comic book fan, drop us a line and tell us what you think about Marvel’s initiative!

Mike Andrici
Growing up in my father's PC store, I was surrounded by and developed a passion for technology ever since I was in kindergarten. However, advancements made in the technology world continue to amaze me on a daily basis! I've been writing about the Android OS since back in October 2008, when Google and HTC launched the first Android smartphone ever, the T-Mobile G1 / HTC Dream. Although I'm no company's fanboy, Android is the mobile OS I devoutly support.