Aug
18
2009
0

Press Release: Layar Reality Browser Announces Global Launch and New Features in the Latest Release

Over 100 partners worldwide developing content layers including well known brands

AMSTERDAM, August 17th 2009. Layar, which was first launched in June 2009 in The Netherlands, announces that it’s second generation Reality Browser is now available globally on Android devices. Many new content layers are available in the Reality Browser which vary from Wikipedia, Twitter and Brightkite to local services like Yelp, Trulia, store locator’s, nearby bus stops, mobile coupons, Mazda dealers and tourist, nature and cultural guides.

Layar Reality Browser 2.0
To discover new content quickly and with ease, the new Reality Browser includes sections for ‘Featured’ and ‘Popular’. All layers are also accessible via a keyword search in the search function. Layers that are used often can be saved to ‘Favorites’. In addition to the enhanced augmented reality camera view, it is now possible to select Map or List view. For every Point of Interest (POI), several actions can be taken such as: linking to a mobile site for more information, playing a live location based trivia game, linking to a video or sound clip, clicking to call for reservations, and looking at a route description to the POI. Content partners can fully customize their layer to provide a distinctive experience for the user.

500 more developers
Over 100 developers worldwide have been given access to the Layar platform by means of an API key, and are currently developing layers.

Scott Halcomb of SystemK from Japan, who developed 22 layers including the ‘Sapporo Hotspots’ layer:
“With the Layar API and support of the developers community, creating layers has been a pleasure”.

Dave Elchoness of GoWeb3D from the USA/ India, with 11 layers published including FlickAR:
“We strongly believe that Layar represents the next evolution for mobile applications and feel privileged to participate”.

Michael Coutinho, Technical Manager at Trulia, USA:
“This is a great idea. I was able to develop our layer in about three hours.”

To further grow the community of developers, Layar has released an additional 500 new API keys. The supporting wiki (http://layar.pbworks.com), with developer instructions and documentation, are all now available.

Layar for all
Starting from today, Layar is available for everyone with an Android phone anywhere in the world.  The Reality Browser can be downloaded in all local Android Markets and is pre-installed on the new Samsung Galaxy (i7500) in the Netherlands.

Dirk Groten, CTO:
“The next platform on which Layar will be available is the iPhone 3GS. We are currently investigating other platforms that support our functionalities.”

Raimo van der Klein, CEO:
“With the release of this Reality Browser we believe we have created a worldwide platform that will bring both fun and relevant Augmented Reality experiences in one application to a growing audience of users.”

Boilerplate
The Layar Reality Browser displays real time digital information on top of reality in the camera screen of the mobile phone. While looking through the phone’s camera lens, a user can see houses for sale, popular bars and shops, tourist information of the area, play a live game, etcetera. Layar first launched on June 16th, 2009 and announced the opening up its platform by means of an API on July 8th, 2009. The Layar platform serves as an enabler for mobile location services - any database with geo-location information can easily be turned in a content layer. The Layar Reality Browser is globally available for mobile phones running the Android operating system. Layar is a company based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Contact Maarten Lens-FitzGerald at press@layar.com for press inquiries

View all material at www.layar.com/press

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Written by Maarten in: Uncategorized |
Jun
17
2009
21

We launched Layar: worlds first augmented reality browser for mobile

Press release: The first mobile Augmented Reality browser premiers in the Netherlands

Five Dutch content providers to participate in the worlds first AR browser

AMSTERDAM, Tuesday June 16th, 2009. Mobile innovation company SPRXmobile launches Layar, worlds first mobile Augmented Reality browser, which displays real time digital information on top of reality (of) in the camera screen of the mobile phone. While looking through the phone’s camera lens, a user can see houses for sale, popular bars and shops, jobs, healthcare providers and ATMs. The first country to launch Layar is The Netherlands. Launching partners are local market leaders ING (bank), funda (realty website), Hyves (social network), Tempo-team (temp agency) and Zekur.nl (healthcare provider).

How it works
Layar is derived from location based services and works on mobile phones that include a camera, GPS and a compass. Layar is first avaliable for handsets with the Android operating system (the G1 and HTC Magic). It works as follows: Starting up the Layar application automatically activates the camera. The embedded GPS automatically knows the location of the phone and the compass determines in which direction the phone is facing. Each partner provides a set of location coordinates with relevant information which forms a digital layer. By tapping the side of the screen the user easily switches between layers. This makes Layar a new type of browser which combines digital and reality, which offers an augmented view of the world.

Dutch launch
The premier launch is for the Dutch market. Launching content partners are ING (ATM’s), Funda (houses for sale), Hyves (social network hot spots) Tempo-team (jobs) and Zekur.nl (healthcare providers). Layar will be launched per country with local content partners in order to guarantee relevent results for the end user. SPRXmobile is planning further roll-outs, together with local partners, in Germany, the UK and the United States this year. SPRXmobile wil continue with regular releases of new layers after each local launch. The Layar application will be available via the Android Market. Other handsets and operating systems are in development with a prime focus on the iPhone 3G S.

SPRXmobile

Layar is developed by SPRXmobile, a mobile innovation company.

“Eventually, the physical and the virtual worlds will become one. Many visions on Augmented Reality have already been developed, but we are proud to be able to bring this one step closer to reality”, says Raimo van der Klein, co-founder of SPRXmobile.

More information:

http://layar.eu en http://www.sprxmobile.com.

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Written by Maarten in: Uncategorized |
May
13
2009
1

The Box and Beyond

Today I will give a presentation on the future of mobile at “De Haagse School“.
I will present for a group of Human Technology students.

I tried to look beyond the obvious role of context. I ended up in a world where media and life are delivering ONE integrated experience.

As you see chapter 3 is still not finished.. Atleast that is how it feels for me.. What should be added?

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May
12
2009
1

SPRX on Dutch TV about VOIP over 3G

Its in Dutch, good, 10 minutes long and the first item in the program. After the click on the cue image you’ll be taken to the broadcast website (the dont do embeds…)

The item is about the fact that its not allowed to do VOIP over 3G. Skype and other apps display a message telling you that its not allowed when you try this. It is allowed over wifi. And it does work with a hacked phone.

SPRX thinks its logical that operators do this yet they inhibit the use of the phone which has so much more value which will be benifitial to the individual as well as the corporate entity. Its a short sighted rule. Its like the railroad company forbidding taking a bicyle on the train becuase its also a transport mode and might be used instead of the train.

In the program the helpdesk of all operators are called to ask them about VOIP over 3G. None of them knew what they were talking about.

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Written by Maarten in: Video | Tags: , , , , , , ,
May
06
2009
0

‘Radar’ TV crew visits SPRXmobile

Claire was asked to explain why operators should embrace open internet in all its aspect. And not close off voice calling over 3G via Skype. Dutch operators currently don’t allow Skype calls over 3G. Only over wifi. In the video Claire demonstrates Fring on iPhone as a workable alternative which can call over 3G (when your iPhone is jailbroken), also to Skype users. And is also free and available for iPhone.

This video is the Qik stream of the all the recording work. The edited item will be broadcast on Monday on Dutch TV. As soon as we have it we will post the final item.

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Written by Maarten in: Uncategorized |
May
04
2009
1

Great Presentation about Contexetual Services

It explains the difference between PC internet and mobile internet very well and helps you understand how contextual services will be beneficial for individuals and cooperation’s. Great to see others get on this “physical world interfacing” & “contextual services” bandwagon and explain it so well. We’re defining a whole new business category!

Love the design of the presentation too, you glide on through the 128 slides with ease, get the message and only slightly miss the voice over.

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Apr
26
2009
31

The Augmented Reality Hype Cycle

Update: This article now also in Dutch. And in Catalan.

This year Augmented Reality (AR) is out of the box. It has escaped from the universities and is spreading like wild fire. It’s being written about more and more, especially by marketing people, who go for hypes first. This last month I’ve personally heard about at least 4 advertising agencies working on it. On Twitter its mentioned at least 5 times an hour. What types of Augmented Reality are there and where do we stand?

To frame this and differentiate the levels of AR I made the Augmented Reality Hype Cycle. It is inspired by Robert Rice’s article “Is it too early for Augmented Reality?” and expands on the AR Levels which he describes in “Augmented Vision and the Decade of Ubiquity “. The Gartner Hype Cycle is a great method to plot new technologies and applications.

In the Hype Cycle I focus on technology that is already out there and which application is aimed at the individual. Not Industrial. Also I focus on mobile when ever possible.


There are 4 Levels of AR (the larger grey titles):

  • Level 0 - Physical World Hyper Linking
  • Level 1 - Marker Based AR
  • Level 2 - Markerless AR
  • Level 3 - Augmented Vision

LEVEL 0 - Physical World Hyper Linking

This is the oldest form and an addition to Rices’s 3 initial Levels of AR. It is a way to link the physical world to the virtual world. It starts with the 1D (UPC) bar code that’s on every product you have. It’s the identifier as registered in the database. The same can be said for 2D codes of which QR-codes are best known. Last part of this group is 2D image recognition. Most used mobile application is the recognition of a company logo or film poster which will then redirect you to a site for more information.

Being the oldest, this form of AR is the most developed. Its also the simplest and doesn’t involve real time rendering and display of graphics. Some may not even call it AR. General adoption of this technology will happen within a year. Most Nokia phones are already outfitted with the software for 1D and 2D bar code scanning. 2D scanning is stuck on the slope of enlightenment and will be surpassed by 2D image recognition in the coming year.

Examples of 1D & 2D Barcodes:

Examples 2D Image Recognition

LEVEL 1 - Marker Based AR

This is where the hype is now. Augmented reality based on markers. Its the first step for real AR because it enables real time processing of ‘reality’ through the recognition of markers and subsequently real time rendering and display of graphics on top of this reality.

The first type is the 2D Marker AR which is PC and web cam based. Almost all applications work use an Internet connection to retrieve more information. The marker is the black and white square image you print out and hold in front of your web cam to see a 3D animation.

This is what most people are doing. There are also free toolkits to develop applications and now also Flash based which explains a lot of the popularity.

Next step up is 2D Marker AR with a mobile device. This is tricky-er because it involves a lot or real time processing and a very capable phone. For instance it is not possible on the iPhone because the OS does not allow for real time video processing. You also can’t record video with it as yet. It is possible with a hacked iPhone though.

2D Marker AR is most seen on Windows Mobile devices surprisingly enough. Coolest is 3D recognition, where the mobile recognizes a chair or another physical object and goes on to augmented it.

Level 1 - Marker Based AR is moving from the technology trigger to just before the actual peak of inflated expectations. For now it will not go away and in the coming year PC and Mobile 2D marker based AR will be the IN thing. Where the mobile version will be lagging in comparison to the PC based version due to the lack of computing power and other mobile issues. When the novelty is worn off the actual application value will prove to be thin. Its no real money maker except for marketing and PR applications. On the mobile it will last a bit longer when good games come out. The most promising, 3D recognition, is in the tail of Level 1 - Marker Based AR and is hardly a reality yet.

Examples of 2D Marker AR - PC & Web cam based:

Examples of 2D Marker AR - Mobile:

Examples 3D Object Recognition - Mobile:

LEVEL 2 - Markerless AR

Augmented Reality without markers is powerful. Pull out your mobile phone and experience an augmented reality. It can be that simple. Only G1 (the Android - Google phone from T-mobile) owners had the opportunity to experience this with Wikitude from Mobilizy and later ING Wegwijzer. Its based on GPS data and the compass. Because the phone knows where it is (the GPS) and in what direction you are looking (the compass) it can augment reality on the screen correctly.

Level 2 - Markerless AR is halfway the technology trigger and will be nearing the peak of inflated expectations in a year when more phones have the combination of GPS and compass. The Nokia N97 which will be out in the summer will have a compass and will trigger the first non Android Markerless AR applications. It is unknown if the new iPhone will have this capability. It would be HUGH if it did…

Examples of GPS - Compass based AR:

LEVEL 3 - Augmented Vision

This does not exist yet. As Rice says:

“We must break away from the monitor and display to lightweight transparent wearable displays (in an eyeglasses form factor). Once AR becomes AV, it is immersive. The whole experience immediately changes into something more relevant, contextual, and personal. This is radical and changes everything. As I have said before, this will be the next evolution in media. Print, Radio, Television, Internet, Augmented Reality (well, Vision). L3 must also be mobile massively multi-user, persistent, shared, dynamic, and ubiquitous.”

It will be more then 3 years before anything remotely capable will be available. Until then we will have to make do with research news like that of the University of Washington where they are working on displaying pixels in contact lenses .

In Conclusion

To me it’s daunting to see how far there is to go. Yet knowing where we are now, what is coming and how to frame it enables realistic planning and choices. I hope it helps you. I’ll be enjoying the ride and developing some cool AR initiatives with my SPRX partners.

Thanks to all AR bloggers and twitterers who directly and indirectly helped me put this together. Looking forward to see your feedback and more examples in the comments.

- April 2009

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Apr
08
2009
0

Fresh Bread via Twitter and Now via SMS too

Fans of Krispy Kreme’s doughnuts know they need to pull over and buy some when the Hot Now sign is on. Doughnuts are the best when they are ultra fresh, straight out of the fryer.

So why not build a twitter service when the baker in your neighborhood gets his fresh bread out of the oven?  Thats what Albion Cafe on Boundary Street in London did. You’ll get tweeted whenever the fresh bread comes out of the oven. It also tell you what kind of bread it is.

Peter Parkes took it a step further:

I’ve put together an app which takes the feed from Albion’s Twitter account, checks for updates, filters them (I’m only really interested in bread), and if (according to Fire Eagle) I’m within a mile of the bakery, sends me an SMS.

I’m thinking about turning it into some sort of web service – and maybe Albion will even pay for the SMS charges – but for now, I’m just enjoying the occasional ding to let me know there’s a loaf waiting.

Usefull services for everyday rituals. People might even pay for it.

Lets take it another step further… can’t my watch receive the SMS and buzz slightly or my ring turn warm when the bread comes out of the oven? I don’t what my big clunky phone to do all this.

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Mar
25
2009
5

We launched WhereMeNow

At SPRXmobile we believe in explicit location updates instead of implicit (like Latitude). We see that people still are worried around location updates and have the need to actively update their location when desired.

Some of the current worries and problems around loc. updates we see today:

  • Loc. update apps use to much battery because the use of GPS
  • You would like to update your location when you are inside. Inside GPS does not work
  • The degree of accuracy is something you would like regulate. Are you in Amsterdam? or are you on Prinsengracht 404?)
  • You are not sure which apps update where and when. Too many apps slurping your location. Not sure about the interval. You need to manage all these settings.
  • Location Updates when automated are not a social gesture. There is meaning behind location updates. When we automate this the meaning is lost..
  • You need to start up separate apps to update your location. It should be made possible to update from “where” you already are on the web (and that is twitter of course ;-))

That’s why we built WhereMeNow. It’s probably the easiest way to update your location. You regulate the accuracy. You decide when. It uses Twitter to do so.. Here is how it works..

1. Go to www.wheremenow.com and fill in your Twittername and click the link to Fire Eagle button.

2. Authorize WhereMeNow to update your account on FireEagle

3. Done! You now just tweet your location to @wheremenow..

Some cool things about this service:

  • Everybody sees in twitter where you are. Updates are now social.
  • It’s a H.U.M.A.N. who makes the update
  • You get a confirmation tweet back when you updated
  • We will create a personal page on WhereMeNow with you last updated location on http://wheremenow.com/[twittername] (planned to launch this tomorrow)
  • We will add a RSS button to your personal page so people can see where you are in other parts of the web.

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Mar
16
2009
0

AR doesn’t have to be IN Goggles or ON your Mobile Phone



Pattie Maes
from MIT at TED09. “Unveiling the “Sixth Sense, game-changing wearable tech”. A demonstration of a project spearheaded by Pranav Mistry. It’s a wearable device with a projector that paves the way for profound interaction with our environment.

It very relevant because its the first time I’ve seen an AR demo which isnt IN a pair of goggles or ON your mobile phone. And its made with off the shelf technology worth $350. Also its all the ‘AR dream’ movies we’ve been posting here come to live.

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