The acquisition makes Blippar one of the largest AR players globally, giving it a powerful positioning in the AR and visual browsing space, which may help its adoption in the mass consumer space where AR has tended to languish.
Layar was definitely one of the first to get out there and promote Augmented Reality apps on mobile devices. Glad to see there was a enough talent and capability still resident there to make it worthwhile acquiring it. It’s true what they say in the article that the only other big name player in this field helping promote Augmented Reality is possibly Oculus Rift. I would add Google Glass to that mix as well, especially for AR (not necessarily VR).
What it means. “Augmented reality” sounds very “Star Trek,” but what is it, exactly? In short, AR is defined as “an artificial environment created through the combination of real-world and computer-generated data.”
Nice little survey from the people at Consumer Reports, with specific examples given from the Consumer Electronics Show this past January. Whether it’s software or hardware there’s a lot of things that can be labeled and marketed as ‘Augmented Reality’. On this blog I’ve concentrated more on the apps running on smartphones with integrated cameras, acclerometers and GPS. Those pieces are important building blocks for an integrated Augmented Reality-like experience. But as this article from CR shows, your experience may vary quite a bit.
In my commentary on stories posted by others on the Internet, I have covered mostly just the examples of AR apps on mobile phones. Specifically I’ve concentrated on the toolkit provided by Layar to add metadata to existing map points of interest. The idea of ‘marking up’ the existing landscape for me holds a great deal of promise as the workload is shifted off the creator of the 3D world to the people traveling within it. The same could hold true for Massively Multiplayer Games and some worlds do allow the members to do that kind of building and marking up of the environment itself. But Layar provides a set of data that you can call up while merely pointing the cell phone camera at a compass direction and then bring up the associated data.
It’s a sort of hunt for information, sometimes it’s well done if the metadata mark-up is well done. But like many crowd-sourced efforts some amount of lower quality work or worse vandalism occurs. But this should keep anyone from trying to enhance the hidden data that can be discovered through a Layar enhanced Real World. I’m hoping the mobile phone based AR applications grow and find a niche if not a killer app. It’s still early days and mobile phone AR is not being adopted very quickly but I think there’s still a lot of untapped resources there. I don’t think we have discovered all the possible applications of mobile phone AR.
I’ve been a fan of Augmented Reality for a while, following the announcements from Layar over the past two years. I’m hoping out of this work comes something more than another channel for selling, advertising and marketing. But innovation always follows where the money is and artistic creative pursuits are NOT it. Witness the evolution of Layar from a toolkit to a whole package of brand loyalty add-ons ready to be sent out whole to any smartphone owner, unwitting enough to download the Layar created App.
The emphasis in this WSJ article however is not how Layar is trying to market itself. Instead they are more worried about how Layar is creating a ‘virtual’ space where meta-data is tagged onto a physical location. So a Layar Augmented Reality squatter can setup a very mundane virtual T-shirt shop (say like Second Life) in the same physical location as a high class couturier on a high street in London or Paris. What right does anyone have to squat in the Layar domain? Just like Domain Name System squatters of today, they have every right by being there first. Which brings to mind how this will evolve into a game of technical one-upsmanship whereby each Augmented Reality Domain will be subject to the market forces of popularity. Witness the chaotic evolution of social networking where AOL, Friendster, MySpace, Facebook and now Google+ all usurp market mindshare from one another.
While the Layar squatter has his T-shirt shop today, the question is who knows this other than other Layar users? Who will yet know whether anyone else will ever know? This leads me to conclude this is a much bigger deal to the WSJ than it is to anyone who might be sniped at by or squatted upon within an Augmented Reality cul-de-sac. Though those stores and corporations may not be able to budge the Layar squatters, they can at least lay claim to the rest of their empire and prevent any future miscreants from owning their virtual space. But as I say, in one-upsmanship there is no real end game, only just the NEXT game.
Though the AR element is not particularly elegant, merely consisting of a blue dot superimposed on your cell phone screen that guides the user through Tokyo’s streets, we think it’s nevertheless a clever marketing gimmick.
Augmented Reality (AR) in the news this week being used for a marketing campaign in Tokyo JP. It’s mostly geared towards getting people out to visit bars and restaurants to collect points. Whoever gets enough points can cash them in for Chivas Regal memorabilia. But hey, it’s something I guess. I just wish the navigation interface was a little more sophisticated.
I also wonder how many different phones you can use as personal navigators to find the locations awarding points. Seems like GPS is an absolute requirement, but so is one that has a Foursquare or Livedoor client as well.
Lens-FitzGerald: I never thought of going into augmented reality, but cyberspace, any form of digital worlds, have always been one of the things I’ve been thinking about since I found out about science fiction. One of the first books I read of the cyber punk genre was Bruce Sterling‘s “Mirror Shades.” Mirror shades, meaning, of course, AR goggles. And that book came out in 1988 and ever since, this was my world.
An interview with the man that who created the most significant Augmented Reality (AR) application on handheld devices Layar. In the time since the first releases on smartphones like the Android in Europe, Layar has branched out to cover more of the OSes available on hand held devices. The interest I think has cooled somewhat on AR as social network and location has seemed to rule the day. And I would argue even location isn’t as fiery hot as it was at the beginning. But Facebook is still here with a vengeance. So wither the market for AR? What’s next you wonder, well it seems Qualcomm today has announced it’s very own AR Toolkit to help jump start the developer market more useful, nay killer AR apps. Stay tuned.
I remember when I first saw the Verizon Wireless commercial featuring the Layar Reality Browser. It looked like something out of a science fiction movie. When my student web coordinator came in to the office with her iPhone, I asked her if she had ever heard of “Layar.” She had not heard of it so we downloaded it from the App Store. I was amazed at how the app used the phone’s camera, GPS and Internet access to create a virtual layer of information over the image being displayed by the phone. It was my first experience with an augmented reality application.
It’s nice to know Layar is getting some wider exposure. When I first wrote about it last year, the smartphone market was still somewhat small. And Layar was targeting phones that already had GPS built-in which the Apple iPhone wasn’t quite ready to allow access to in its development tools. Now the iPhone and Droid are willing participants in this burgeoning era of Augmented Reality.
The video in the article is from Droid and does a WAY better job than any of the fanboy websites for the Layar application. Hopefully real world performance is as good as it appears in the video. And I’m pretty sure the software company that makes it has continuously been updating it since it was first on the iPhone a year ago. Given the recent release of the iPhone 4 and it’s performance enhancements, I have a feeling Layar would be a cool, cool app to try out and explore.
As reported in Wired.com for Thursday October 15 , 2009. Layar was originally developed in the Netherlands, and runs on Android based cell phones. The first cell phone manufacturer to pre-install it was Samsung who installed it on their Android based Galaxy sold in the Netherlands.
It has now been ported over to the iPhone and will now compete head to head with an early entrant into the AR market, Bionic Eye. Layar had garnered some early mindshare on O’Reilly’s technology blog Radar where I first noticed it. Others had whispered about it early on the cutting edge tech blogs. But this was the first concrete example showing what it could do.
Wired.com has been singing the praises of the cell phone Augmented Reality craze but somewhat later than O’Reilly tapped into it in early Summer. O’Reilly now has a correspondent fully engaged in covering things AR related: Christine Perey. And now let the battle begin Bionic Eye vs. Layar! But first consider the API’s which are already beginning to be examined by the folks over at Wired. One big complaint is the difficulty with which one can submit their own Point of Interest database that Layar can call up. Bionic Eye hasn’t really touted user generated POI content as much. It will take a while to see if it’s the consumers or the developers who determines the winner in the battle for Cellphone AR apps. Who knows? Maybe Google will enter the fray real soon now.
Layar is in the iPhone App Store!
We have waited a long time but it is finally there! Layar arrived in the App Store. It’s free and available globally. Below some screenshots of the App.