When real-world and computer graphics objects are blended into real footage in real time, you have reached augmented reality (AR). Combining live video imagery with computer-generated graphics, motion-tracking and other data, Layar promises a mobile web where users can walk down a city street and receive real time demographic information, histories of buildings, and block-by-block news.
The upcoming Layar Android application enables sets of viewable data to be displayed in the viewfinder of your mobile phone. Pointing the phone’s camera at various locations instantly overlays information about the respective location in the viewfinder. Real estate, banking and restaurant search companies have already embraced the future of mobile web by creating layers of information to be made available using the platform.
Applications that show nearby restaurants, historical landmarks, or current locations of your friends don’t allow other people and companies to add their data. Layar makes it possible, for instance, to shared marked points on the map with others.
Currently the Layar application only works in the Netherlands, and there is no indication when we can expect to see support for other regions. The application will be made available in the Android Market shortly. The developer plans applications for iPhone and other platforms as well.
The idea of augmented reality was first introduced in 1849 using a darkened theatre and surrounding the audience in imagery and sound. Known as virtual reality in the 1980’s, first Boeing in 1992 and eleven years later, GeoVector along with Vodafone, HP and Microsoft, Virtual Spectator and Animation Research Ltd showcased Actual Spectator AR app during America’s Cup.
More recently, Playstation 3 utilized augmented reality in Sony’s 2007 release of The Eye of Judgment. In 2008, Wikitude AR Travel Guide was introduced. The Wikitude product is actually the first mobile augmented reality browser. Layar’s PR was misleading and I was too easily misled.