Sunday, June 21, 2009

Layar Could Be the Future of "Augmented Reality"

This location based service seems to be the current toast on the net. A synopsis below the article on feature set and how it works.

Similar to Nokia's upcoming "Point & Find" app and the Wikitude app which was on demo at Barcelona earlier this year. Very simply put works by mapping your location (obtained by gps fix or triangulation based location via cellular or wifi network) and compass orientation to pre-loaded content for PoIs in the direction you are pointing to from where you are.

Enhanced local search like this in my opinion is what is going to create the pull for LBS. Opens up a plethora of opportunities tight from a tourist guide to shopping offers and this could be collected data, crowd sourced or paid for (listing).. Content is going to be key here and in the medium term it will have to be crowd sourced if you are to go hyper local. What's interesting is that Layars from day one has opened up the APIs and signed up companies that will publish their own data with respect to their PoIs (e.g. Starbucks will publish their info whenever a Starbucks restaurant is looked up)

Marshall Kirkpatrick / June 16, 2009

I've long fantasized about being able to walk down city streets and get information on my phone about area demographics, histories of buildings I see and block-by-block news. A new Android app being talked about today makes that fantasy feel a little closer to reality.

Dutch software firm SPRXmobile will soon release an application for the Android phone that it calls "the world's first Augmented Reality browser." Called Layar, the app is a platform that makes sets of data viewable on top of the viewfinder of your mobile phone as you pan around a city and point at buildings. Real estate, banking and restaurant search companies have already created layers of information available on the platform, which is limited to use in the Netherlands for now. The demo video of the service is quite striking.

The blog NotJustReality quotes Raimo van der Klein, co-founder of SPRXmobil, in saying: "Eventually, the physical and the virtual worlds will become one." That's a nightmarish vision that warrants serious skepticism, but this app for phones sure is cool! The dystopian consequences of having a layer of commercial information placed literally between your eyes and the world around you are nothing to take lightly - but throw in Wikipedia and Outside.in-type layers and we'll likely be happy. In our most recent coverage of the Augmented Reality market we highlighted Wikitude, a Wikipedia layer for Android phones. (How about some iPhone love, already, developers?)

Layar is reminiscent of data layers on Google Earth, Nokia's Point and Find or the excellent Android Sky Map app, which lets users point their phones into the sky and identifies constellations.

Google's Talk Android blog says that Layar will be available in the Android store shortly but there's no word when it will be made available for other countries. Layar says its developers are working hard on building for other platforms, the iPhone in particular.

Layar - The World's First Augmented Reality Browser

The World's First Augmented Reality Browser. Layar is a free application on your mobile phone which shows you what is around you by displaying real time digital information on top of reality through the camera of your mobile phone.

Layar will be available for the T-Mobile G1, HTC Magic and other Android phones in Android Market before July 1st 2009.

How do you use Layar?

By holding the phone in front of you like a camera information is displayed on top of the camera display view.

For all points of interest which are displayed on the screen, information is shown at the bottom of the screen.

What do you see in the screen?

On top of the camera image (displaying reality) Layar adds content layers. Layers are the equivalent of webpages in normal browsers. Just like there are thousands of websites there will be thousands of layers. One can easily switch layers by selecting another via the menu button, pressing the logobar or by swiping with your finger across the screen.

We offer companies the possibility to publish their own layer in our browser (through an API). Currently several companies have already signed up for Layar and will publish their own content in their branded layer soon. We will share with you soon which layers will be available in your country.

Features of Layar

Layar has some cool features. We have listed a couple of them below.
  • Switch layers easily
  • Radar widget to give you an overview
  • Logobar to indicate which layer is active
  • Link through to mobile websites
  • Integrated map view
  • Custom filters for each layers (like distance, category, search box)
Who is the team behind Layar?

Layar is developed by SPRXmobile. A Mobile Innovation Company run by Raimo van der Klein, Claire Boonstra & Maarten Lens-FitzGerald.