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  • Joe 08:28 on June 3, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , AugmentedReality, browser, content, , , , poi   

    Towards a generic AR browser 

    Layar Stream UI

    Yesterday was a very significant day for the AR world, as Layar released their 3.5 release with a new functionality called Stream. While this can be viewed as a UI change and yet another way of presenting AR information, this is in fact a huge step in the direction of AR as a first class medium.

    In that sense this is no less significant than the first consumer version of the web browser was (say Mosaic 1.03 or Netscape 0.9 so you will).

    Let me explain why.

    Until now, AR content has been served and displayed as yet another domain specific application, in many senses:

    • brand specific (for branding and PR purposes)
    • region specific (one app or layer per region, e.g. a local hamburger joint)
    • application specific (literally: stand alone AR apps are still out there)

    Within the Layar platform, a single AR browser for multiple platforms and targeted at the global market was already a fact. But each AR content item (the Point of Interest, POI in short) was still confined to it’s defining layer, which is of course the under control of one publisher per individual layer. So even if a publisher would want to publish the richest possible AR content for a domain, they would be limited by the availability of accurate AR content to them.

    For a example (and this is real): there might be several branches of banks who publish their own, branded version of a “ATM finder” layer. They might not have accurate data about all available ATM’s or leave the competing branches out because of better brand recognition. Which is inevitable or even fine as a business decision. For the end user, who just wants to find the nearest ATM, this is very awkward; they have to first find all available ATM finder layers ad then open them, one by one. In Stream everything is combined and accessible by just the single search term “ATM”.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I do recognize the importance of having the Single Layer concept for branding, ownership and even paid business models. Even more, this is one of the enablers four our business model behind TAB worldmedia. Even more, it benefits the end user as well, as this is a way to communicate the source and thus trustworthyness for specific content. I do trust the branch owner of a certain ATM brand more than just a generic publisher regarding location and availability.

    So this is where Layar steps in and created a really smart compromise. Stream combines the best of two worlds in a very elegant way: it makes the most relevant AR content available to the end user, while still providing context and branding when a user “dives in” and opens the POI, as this is still displayed in its own context and branded layer.

    The whole stream approach is exciting for yet another reason: it means that we have a significant and diverse offering of AR content in many regions already, which justifies a unified and categorized or searchable, well, stream of AR data. In other words, there’s so much content out there that a simple Layer catalog approach is not sufficient any more for discovery. And thus, it signifies the emancipation of AR as a first class content medium, as stated above.

    I’m really excited to see this happen within a year after the launch of the first open AR browsers, yet another signal about the high pace at which AR is evolving right now!

    Read the original announcement here: Layar revolutionizes Mobile Content Discovery with new Stream Technology powered browser.

    Note: Layar Stream is available for Android right now from the Android Market, iPhone users have to wait a little as the approval process needs to be completed before they can update their version through the AppStore.

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    • Ivo 11:14 on June 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      To translate this to an end user, what you are basically saying is that you can now watch the information from multiple layers at once. Nice, but ‘no less significant than the first consumer version of the web browser was’? Come on đŸ™‚

      • Joe 09:23 on June 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        @ivo honestly, the move from AR app (current layer model) to first class AR object AKA a POI enables such a wide range of new possibilities… just think of indexing, search, discovery, filtering and opening up the ecosystem in general!

    • John Sietsma 01:04 on June 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      No less significant then the first consumer browser? It would be pretty exciting if it had the same significance!

      It’s a nice development. While were making analogies to web browsing we still need to solve; searching, filtering, syndication, rich media, development tools, etc.

      Should be fun!

  • Joe 09:11 on May 17, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: advertising, , AugmentedReality, campaign, , outdoor, princeofpersia   

    Walt Disney launches first AR outdoor campaign 

    Prince of Persia AR Campaign

    Prince of Persia AR Campaign

    TAB Worldmedia, my company, just pblished the first Augmented Reality Outdoor campaign, for no less than Walt Disney’s movie Prince of Persia, The Sands of Time.

    The campaign is based on Layar and auto launched at many outdoor advertising locations all across the Netherlands. We put much effort in making the experience as rich as possible for the viewer, pushing the Layar platform to its limits and beyond.

    Needless to mention we’re very proud and happy to be able to work with such a high profile company with such a rich subject as this movie and I’m really looking forward to the feedback from users.

    More information can be found on the website TAB Worldmedia, a press-kit is available upon request through me.

    Want to try it for yourself? Be sure you are in The Netherlands, switch on Layar on your mobile device, select tab “Local” and look for Prince of Persia. Or quick and dirty: scan the QR code / select the link of the QR image below.

    Prince of Persia layar

    Prince of Persia layar

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  • Joe 20:05 on April 27, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , android store, app, , AugmentedReality, download, , market, ,   

    TweepsAround Launcher in Android Market 

    Android Market

    Image via Wikipedia

    Using Tweeps Around a lot in Layar? Want to have a nice clean app icon or shortcut to place on your Android’s home screen?

    Now you can: today the TweepsAround launch app has been released in the Android market.

    TweepsAround Launcher is a real Android application, so you can place it anywhere on you Android phone. When activated, it opens Layar with the TweepsAround layer in Reality View, no more browsing in the catalog.

    The app also checks if you have Layar installed. When not, you get a button which takes you directly to Layar in the Android Market where you can download it for free.

    Want to give it a spin? The QR code below links to the app in the Android store, ready to install. Or you could search for “tweepsaround”.

    Of course all feedback, hints and tips are welcome!

    Update: you can find Tweeps Around in Androlib now.

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    • Jens de Smit 12:40 on April 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Is this based on a generic launcher application that’s publicly available or is this custom?

      • Joe 13:41 on April 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        @Jens it is a custom built app; I don’t even know if there are generic launcher apps for Android (there seems to be something along those lines for iPhone I was told).

  • Joe 13:46 on April 21, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , AugmentedReality, experience, ,   

    The state of Mobile Augmented Reality 

    Below are the slides of my presentation at AR Devcamp Amsterdam last Saturday April 17th.

    To summarize, Augmented Reality is much more about experience than just the presentation of raw facts and points around you. That is where our company TAB Worldmedia is focusing on.
    Links in this presentation:

    Don’t forget #ARFlashmob next Saturday!

  • Joe 00:30 on February 6, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , AugmentedReality, , networkshop, presentatie, slides, , workshop   

    Networkshop Mobiele Augmented Reality 

    (Note: this article and slides are in Dutch)

    Afgelopen donderdag heb ik bij CoworkCompany in Leiden voor een tiental geĂ¯nteresseerden een introductie op het gebied van Mobiele Augmented Reality gegeven. De slides van deze gebeurtenis staan hieronder.

    Deze workshop werd gegeven in de serie Networkshops waarbij regelmatig interessante workshops voor en door zelfstandigen worden gehouden.

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  • Joe 12:09 on February 5, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , AugmentedReality, , , xmpp   

    The path to the future of AR is open 

    Augmented Reality
    Image by turkletom via Flickr

    Chris Cameron of RWW asks Open or Closed: What’s the Best Path for Mobile Augmented Reality?

    The best path is open, no question about it. This “browser” model is the only way an AR app like Layar (or Wikitude) can survive beyond the gimmicky “app” life cycle. Just ask yourself: do I want to install the gazillionth “metro maps” app when visiting Paris, or just type “metro” in my standard AR browser and get the results (remember, the thing is location aware)?


    Going further, I envision a future for mobile AR where geo-tagged data points will be browsed in a generic way. By that time, the geo browser or whatever you will call it becomes a basic functionality of any mobile device, likely pre-installed and hopefully also downloadable from several vendors.

    How Open is Open?

    The currently available AR browsers (Wikitude, Layar) both have an open model – what they call the API, but in essence it is a formatting definition of a POI list, just like html is used for standard web browsers. At the same time both a closed with regards to their catalog and discovery model, in other words, AR data can only be consumed through either browser once a source has been explicitly registered and thus becomes part of their catalog. This make sense for now, as the market is very young and there are no other mechanisms for discovery or established yet. Remember when the www had only a few thousand sites, catalog services like Yahoo! made sense, they became obsolete after the number of web pages became too huge to be cataloged and search engines started to become the new way for discovering relevant results (and so Yahoo! transformed itself into a destination site including a search engine).

    Another key aspect of the www is that there’s no need to explicitly add your content to some kind of catalog, just put it up and it will be found by aggregators (note: this is an evolving goal, we’re not there yet and have to do with SEO for the good or bad for a while – Linked Open Data is one of the answers here).

    Following this analogy, this is what we need for AR to really become a mature way to “browse the world”:

    • better UX for the mobile hardware (eventually glasses and lenses)
    • open standard for AR data publishing
    • open standard for AR data queries
    • standardized AR browsers / clients

    The path to real Open AR

    The good news is that there are a lot of lessons learned from the regular www to be applied and a lot of existing open specifications and protocols which can be used. To mention a few:

    • publish using linked open data standards (semantic web, e.g. RDF – at least for metadata to support discoverability)
    • support a real time experience from the start (to avoid kludges like Twitter afterwards)
    • support social graphs from the start (AR is about you and your social network too)
    • use open standards for the transfer protocol, XMPP makes a lot of sense here

    Two months ago, Tish Shute presented at the Mobile Monday conference in Amsterdam and introduced the AR Wave initiative to me. This looks like a very strong contender to evolve into the open AR web. If you’re interested in this matter you really should read up on this initiative!

    Oh, and for now and the next few years we should really be very happy with our catalog based AR browsers, Layar and Wikitude are paving the road as innovator and evangelizer for a whole new industry. You can be sure they will keep stretching the experience to the limits as currently imposed by the handsets and immature technology.

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