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Layar Brings Augmented Reality To The iPhone

October 19, 2009 by Ryan Ray 

It’s another Monday post again, Happy Monday to all out there. It seems like here in the midwest that the weather has picked back up to normal Fall levels. Sunny with crisp air in the 60′s! It’s great out there. Hope the weekend treated you well. Now let’s get into some iPhone stuff!

Augmented reality is the next great thing coming to the iPhone. Good news for us is that it doesn’t require much, except for maybe the iPhone 3GS. For augmented reality to work it needs to have GPS and a compass. You might be able to get by with other versions of the iPhone but the iPhone 3GS will do it best! Of course you can always upgrade like I did!

So with that out there, what is augmented reality anyway? This is what the Wiki says about AR…

“Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmentedby) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality. The augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, like for example sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer visionand object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally usable. Artificial information about the environment and the objects in it can be stored and retrieved as an information layer on top of the real world view. The term augmented reality is believed to have been coined in 1990 by Thomas Caudell, an employee of Boeing at the time[1].

Augmented reality research explores the application of computer-generated imagery in live-video streams as a way to expand the real-world. Advanced research includes use of head-mounted displays and virtual retinal displays for visualization purposes, and construction of controlled environments containing any number of sensors and actuators.”

If you are still confused, just let me give you some examples to clear it up. One app that I know of that is fully AR is called Layar, download it by clicking on the name! Also if you are a big fan of Urban Spoon like I am, they now have it built into their great food finding app. Be sure to check it out.

Layar Loading Screen

Now while Layar has been mostly getting bad reviews, it still shows you what the potential of these kind of apps are. Before we talk more about AR let’s show you what Layar is made of. Inside of Layar you can easily add favorites and the most popular searches for your own AR experience. As you can see I’ve added Layar’s normal search, then skate spots that pulls up places to skateboard from a world wide databse, and lastly a favorite to help find places to eat. Although now I will probably stick to Urban Spoons AR just because I love the app.

On the right you can see what the most popular services are that use AR. An interesting one is the Tweeps Around. It will show you where people are tweeting from if they have a location tied to their tweets. Such as tweeting from your iPhone will do!

Layar Favorites Layar Featured

So what happens when you actually perform a search? This is my search using the local search. I searched for Dollar General because I knew there was one close just to show you what it looks like. The first picture is my iPhone looking slightly North West and you can see the grid that represents the horizon. On it is a marker for the Dollar General. The map is live updating as you rotate and tilt your iPhone. It’s really cool especially in a big city. The second view is just from the normal map.

Layar Augmented Reality Layar Map

The one downfall for me is that you can’t set your distance for more than 6 miles. In a small town I really need to set things for further than 6 miles. But then again in a big city that’s not required and it may ruin your AR experience with so many options popping up for under 6 miles.

Layar Settings

Is Layars worth a try? Yes, it definitely is. It’s a free app and has some good AR. Definitely check out Urban Spoon too when you are out looking for food. Their implementation is awesome as well. Now it’s your turn, give me your opinion on AR on the iPhone. I’m curious as to what you think about it. Can you think of any genius uses for it? Be sure to comment and spark a discussion, enjoy your Monday. Talk to you all soon!

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