The December '09 issue of Esquire magazine arrived the other day, with the cover trumpeting an exciting new innovation -- "Augmented Reality".  There, embedded right between Robert Downey Jr.'s legs, was the future of interactive publishing -- a webcam-readable barcode, which, when activated through special software installed on the reader's Mac or PC, would lead to an interactive esquire.com set of features.

Image:Esquire Magazine "Augmented Reality": The CueCat is back

Does this remind anyone of the CueCat?
Image:Esquire Magazine "Augmented Reality": The CueCat is back

I'm all for innovation in publishing, especially when it pertains to Esquire's monthly "Funny* joke told by a beautiful woman".  But do I really need to install an app, activate a webcam, hold up my magazine to the computer cam like a dork, and hope that the barcode is read properly?

Can't the average Esquire reader just type in a URL?

I thought it especially funny that the magazine arrived with the cover barcode obscured...by the mailing label.  Technological progress still has a ways to go.

Update: At least some of the readers of Mashable are (mostly) as skeptical as I am.

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