Augmented Reality? Layar It On Me

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There’s nothing particularly new about augmented reality applications on mobile devices, nor with Layar – likely the leading platform for this activity (except for the fact that they recently received a boatload of investment dollars). But I thought it possible some readers were not all that familiar and would benefit from a better knowledge of augmented reality’s possibilities with regard to geoX apps.

So let’s just look at Layar. Layar is an application for iPhone and Android – a Layar Reality Browser as they’ve dubbed it – that “shows what is around you by displaying real time, digital information on top of the real world as seen through the camera of your mobile phone.” Which means they (or you as a product designer) augment the real world as it’s seen through a mobile phone, based on your location. Want a blimp with your ad on it to appear when someone holds their phone up to a certain address? Done.

So how does it work? By employing a combination of the mobile phone’s camera, compass and GPS data to identify the user’s location and field of view, retrieve data based on those geographical coordinates, and then overlay that data before the camera view. Take a look at how the company pitches it: Currently for the U.S. there are 440 layers that can be installed into your “Reality Layar” … Take a look at another view of the product through a less exciting phone: It’s obvious the potential for goofiness and simple fun here but also an opportunity for actual commerce and virtually-driven foot traffic to actual brick-n-mortal stores

Here you can get a sense of some of the layers available for plugging into the app .

And things nearby suddenly take on an added depth and meaning with layers of Layar.
For instance take a look at this and imagine finding things nearby and the serendipitous opportunities around finding things within a range.

See the “radar” upper right that – like many video games – allows you to see which of the elements you are searching are nearby.

It all adds up to opportunity for merchants and developers. And fun times for users. That is, if they can find a way to integrate with existing geo apps as Yelp has done.  Guess we need to stay tuned.

Finally, just for fun, figured we’d show you how to see through walls (below).

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