- USA Today Network is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the U.S. moon landing with a two-part augmented reality (AR) experience in the network's core mobile app and standalone AR app, 321 Launch, according to an announcement.
- The network and Florida Today newspaper plan to run a live AR broadcast from July 16 to 24 around six historical events from the Apollo 11 mission. The experience aims to give mobile viewers an immersive look into the 1969 journey to the moon, with virtual assets and media provided by NASA, per the announcement. 321 Launch will be available to download on July 4. USA Today plans to host a pop-up event with the Smithsonian Institution on July 20 during a live broadcast.
- Separately, USA Today's core app will begin offering AR content on July 9 to tell the story of the hardware and technology NASA used for the Apollo 11 mission. The narrated content will deliver details about the Saturn V rocket's launch sequence and information about its command and lunar modules that carried the three astronauts to the moon.
USA Today's AR experiences build on the news provider's growing library of immersive content that seeks to engage mobile users with interactive storytelling. The 50th anniversary of the U.S. moon landing has become an occasion to celebrate the country's history of space exploration and to educate a younger generation about the space program. Ad agency Digitas last month created a similar AR app experience that focused on President John F. Kennedy's role in the moon landing after its research showed younger generations were unaware of his contributions.
USA Today has previously experimented with AR development and immersive storytelling with an eye toward the future of news consumption. The media organization this month released two AR experiences for the FIFA Women's World Cup, the soccer tournament that kicked off on June 8 and runs through July 8. The experiences included USA Today's first AR game called "Make the Save" that challenges players to test their virtual goalkeeping skills and could help to keep users engaged on the platform longer.
In April, USA Today launched an immersive experience called "New Heights: Groundbreaking skyscrapers" to showcase some of the world's tallest buildings and flex some creative muscle. The interactive skyscraper exhibit was USA Today's third AR experience this year following a feature about Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson and a display of Oscar-nominated costumes leading into the Academy Awards.