Layar’s Augmented Reality Web for mobiles: finally layered information

Finally. An augmented reality application of superb execution. Layar is a Google Android OS application and an iPhone 3G S version on its way. Publicly announced on June 14th by Dutch company SPRXMobile. Many AR apps have hit the scene since Wikitude AR Travel Guide first appeared in November 2008—but Layar ups the stakes by being able to hide and show different types of information.
Layar application running a real-estate guide on an Android/HTC mobile phone

Visual comparison of Layar & Wikitude

Comparing the first mainstream AR application to the second, Wikitude to Layar, there’s a noticeable improvement in user interface. The radar looks cool, but is it just a compass?

And FINALLY someone implemented layers. It’s what it sounds like; visual data is organized on layers that can be made invisible/visible. Like Photoshop. And the infinite number of layer’s are for sale to companies with good ideas (—that’s their business model).

Layar’s video shows examples for a real estate guide service (good choice for an early layer—encapsulates the idea, potential). They’re currently requesting layer ideas from companies, but I’m sure they’re working on making people able to create and share their own layers. That’s what I would do.

The videos embedded below show Layar in June ’09 and Wikitude in October ’08 (pre-release).

Layar promotional video (released June ’09)

Wikitude demo video (released October ’08)


Layar’s not the world’s first browser—it’s the first augmented reality web

The world’s first augmented reality browser for mobiles. So goes Layar’s tagline. But, uUnless I’m mistaken, they don’t actually mean it’s the first augmented reality browser for the Web (as in the World Wide Web). It’s the first browser for the web they developed, an augmented reality web! So the browser is a first, but only because the web it browses is a first. So the tagline isn’t technically wrong, it’s a marketing mistake perhaps, but not wrong. The Augmented Reality Web aspect is the cool part and should be scream of the brand. Including the term “browser” in there just confuses things. But nevertheless, they’re getting full media coverage.

Layar is high on my list of “AR companies that get it”—understand one of the unique opportunities in mainstream augmented reality. Respect where it’s due. They’re developing a well designed product with potential, deserving of success.

Hat tip to the SPRXMobile team; Raimo van der Klein, Claire Boonstra, Maarten Lens-FitzGerald. Well done.

Links & refs


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