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  • Joe 08:28 on June 3, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , , browser, content, IPhone, , , 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 🙂

      • 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 09:19 on December 3, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , IPhone, , , , ,   

    Tweepsaround updated for Layar 3D 

    Tweeps Around 3D view

    Tweeps Around 3D view

    The popular Augmented Reality app Layar just got updated to a very exciting new version with support for a 3D Reality View and a couple of other neat features.

    I’m proud to announce a new version of the Tweeps Around layer, with the following improvements:

    • The images of tweeting people are shown in 3D in space, just as they are around you
    • Support for the new native geotagging feature of Twitter
    • You can now reply and post new tweets (status updates)
    • Your tweets will be geotagged with your current location (optional)

    Like to experience this yourself? Make sure you have the latest version of Layar installed in your iPhone (free download in App Store) or Android powered device (free download from Android Market).

    You need a Twitter account with geolocation eneabled to send local tweets yourself (no worries, Tweeps Around will guide you through the process when you first log into Twitter).

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  • Joe 19:07 on November 16, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , IPhone, , lbs,   

    Announcing Foursquare for Layar app 

    Image representing Foursquare as depicted in C...

    Image via CrunchBase

    Today Dennis Crowley from Foursquare gave an excellent presentation at  Mobile Monday, Amsterdam edition (#momoams on Twitter).

    If you were there, you now know everything about the city as playground (pacmanhattan.com) and personal metrics.

    I’m very grateful and proud that he took the opportunity to announce my Foursquare application for Layar, which allows you to use the most popular features of Foursquare from Layar.

    What it is

    Foursquare is a very popular social network game which integrates virtual social networks with the real world. Friends meet friends in cafes and bars and let each other know where they hang out. If you haven’t yet, it is definitely worth to check it out.

    The Foursquare Layar app gives you access to the most frequently used features of the network.

    • Show venues around you, including which people are frequenting them, who is the mayor and user tips what to do.
    • Find nearby tips what to do and see at a glance what makes a location special.
    • Check in to a venue and let your friends know that you hang out there.
    Encoded uri: layar://foursquare

    Open Layer with foursquare

    A basic version of these views is accessible even when you’re not signed in to Foursquare, which gives you an excellent opportunity to look around before jumping in and signing up (I’m quiet sure you will eventually plunge in and sign up to connect with your friends)!

    These views are greatly enhanced when you’re signed-in. Then all venues where you or your friends have checked in are prioritized and highlighted. Tips from friends stand out. And you’re able to view what users have on their profile, which “badges” they earned and so on.

    Give it a spin: open the Foursquare Layer on your mobile device.

    (More …)

    • Raimo 20:08 on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent work!!

    • Andrew Warner 23:55 on November 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      This is spectacular!

    • strongabs 01:17 on November 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Very good implementation, but my question is ‘why?’.

      Why would a Foursquare (FS) user not simply use the native iPhone and Android FS application? Why would they want to use Layar and burn up their batteries in minutes? FS says their application doesn’t use the geolocating/battery burning capabilities of the phone, so I would think hardcore users would much rather the native application. Also the native application is available on the older iPhone models that don’t require the new api, etc.

      • Joe 10:06 on November 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        @strongabs you are right that both mobile platforms (android, iphone) have excellent apps for Foursquare. The Layar app uses a slightly different perspective: you are primarily looking around you (geolocation), see what happens right now in your direct neighborhood. Some aspects include:

        view tips and venues without logging in to Foursquare (even without a foursquare account)
        use any of the handy Layar features to switch between AR view, plot locations on a map or even get routing directions
        it’s fun to see what your pals are doing in reality view

        Of course the value of this all is very subjective to the end user (except that currently the GPS is indeed draining the battery like mad).

  • Joe 12:08 on July 9, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , , IPhone, , WebKit   

    Idea: port TwittARound to Android as Layar app 

    Update: this idea is realized now the 2.0 Layar client is live (Aug 17th, 2009)!

    Lately, there’s a lot of buzz going about TwitARound, an Augmented Reality app for the iPhone. Quote from Gizmodo:

    …nearby live tweets show up on the horizon, and you can see where they’re coming from, as well as how far away they are. It uses the compass along with the accelerometer GPS to do its location thing, so it’s restricted to the iPhone 3GS in this implementation, even if it is developed almost entirely in WebKit.

    Judging by this description, there is nothing that prevents this from working on any Android powered device.

    Even better, there exists this nice new Android app, called Layar, which can load augmented reality layers from a supposedly simple data file (coded in json serialization). They will be opening their API shortly by giving an initial 50 API keys for some lucky developers. I applied for one with this idea, hope to test it out soon!

    More about TwittARound in this youtube demo:

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    • Raimo 15:44 on July 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great idea!

      Saw your form request… 😉


  • Joe 12:32 on March 24, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , Handhelds, IPhone, , , Smartphone   

    Android and iPhone 3.0 compared 

    iPhone 3G vs. Android G1
    Image by inju via Flickr

    When I received my Android powered T-mobile G1 phone, I was a bit disappointed by its form factor (clunky design) and – as I felt it – lack of integration between the available apps. I knew the iPhone from seeing it in use around me (hey, everyone has an iPhone, right?) and this is definitely the more elegant one of the two.

    But soon came the insight that Andoid may well be much more powerful, especially compared to the – still current – iPhone 2.x OS. What, no background processes on the iPhone, are they kidding? Also, the Android process management is really very clever. I still don’t have any hands on experience with the iPhone, but I suspect that the Andoid process management compares to the iPhone as pre-emptive multitasking to cooperative multitasking (exactly what made the old Mac OS 7..9 so incredibly sensitive to hanging programs, and which is now completely solved by using the Mach kernel in OS-X).

    Anyway, I just found a decent breakdown of Andoid vs iPhone features compared: Android Versus iPhone 3.0: The Showdown (lifehacker). I think Android has still much room for improvement, but also the best opportunities due to its open nature and multi-platform support (say netbooks). Let’s see what the Cupcake release will bring and then do this comparison with real phones again!

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  • Joe 16:03 on February 3, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , g1, , IPhone, , Sony Ericsson   

    Google Android op T-mobile G1, eerste indruk 

    Image representing Android as depicted in Crun...
    Image via CrunchBase

    Please note, this blog post is in Dutch (translate).

    Mijn eerste indrukken na een paar dagen spelen met de Android powered HTC G1 (door T-Mobile ook wel “Googlephone” genoemd). Voornamelijk vanuit de mogelijkheden op internet gebied, en vergeleken met mijn oude Sony Ericsson 810i (SE).

    Direct bij het eerste opstarten krijg je een melding dat de telefoon het best (of alleen maar?) met een google account gebruikt kan worden. Ik heb niet geprobeerd wat er wel/niet mogelijk is zonder google account, maar ben meteen ingelogd met mijn Google Apps account.

    Adresboek en agenda
    Het blijkt meteen waarom dat google account zo belangrijk is: dit is namelijk de enige manier om adressen en agenda’s te synchroniseren met de G1. Via Bluetooth wordt geen enkele uitwisselings-functie ondersteund, via de USB kabel blijk je alleen bij de externe flash kaart te kunnen en niet bij het telefoon geheugen zelf. Dat betekent vanzelf ook geen iSync vanuit Mac OSX en geen uitwisseling met Addressbook en iCal.

    Die synchronisatie zal dus via google moeten lopen, om dat te configureren is niet helemaal triviaal:

    Op de SE werkte iSync juist vlekkeloos, alleen groepen van adressen en agenda’s werden niet ondersteund.

    Op de G1 zijn er twee ingebouwde opties voor email: een gmail client die onberispelijk werk in alle opzichten, en een meer traditionele email client die je simpel kan configureren met je mail account gegevens. Het gebruik van IMAP over SSL is hier geen probleem, je kan de betreffende instellingen en poort nummers makkelijk invoeren. Er is alleen een groot gebrek aan deze mail client: er wordt geen IMAP IDLE ofwel push email ondersteund. De SE mail applicatie deed dat wel, al ruim twee jaar geleden (alleen was het daar nodig om voor de mailserver van XS4ALL een apart SSL certificaat te installeren).

    Web browser
    De ingebouwde webbrowser is niets bijzonders, werkt zoals het hoort en zelfs de javascript ondersteuning is acceptabel. Alleen de user interface is te beperkt, navigatie gaat alleen redelijk via obscure toetsenbord commando’s.

    Op de SE was een oudere versie van Opera Mobile meegeleverd, maar met wat kunst en vliegwerk bleek het goed mogelijk om de actuele 4.x versie te installeren. Die browser heeft zelfs zonder touch screen een prettigere user interface.

    Verder is er ook slecht nieuws voor wat betreft de mobiele versie van Firefox, Fennec, die juist als eerste alpha release beschikbaar is. Het ziet er niet naar uit dat die ooit voor Android beschikbaar komt doordat Android alleen Java applicaties ondersteunt (en Fennec is in C/C++ ontwikkeld).

    Muziek speler
    De ingebouwde Walkman software van de SE was – na mijn iPod – een belediging, ik heb die nooit gebruikt. Sony heeft destijds een leuk apparaat voor cassettebandjes gemaakt, daar hadden ze het bij moeten laten.

    De ingebouwde music player voor Android is een hele verademing. Prettig dat er niet te veel opties zijn, dat houdt het wel overzichtelijk. Alleen kan ik me geen uitgebreide bibliotheek in het ding voorstellen (maar dat gaat ook niet op 8G Flash, max. 16G).

    De 2M pixel camera van de SE is niet veel bijzonders. Maar wel beter dan de 3M pixel camera van de G1! Het beeld is vaag, met vale kleuren en de lichtgevoeligheid is zeer beperkt. Verder kan de G1 met de huidige Android versie geen filmpjes maken (de SE wel, al zijn die het aanzien niet waard). Waar de SE het met een simpele witte LED moets doen als verlichting, heeft de G1 helemaal niets. Donker is gewoon pech gehad.

    Android Market: applicaties
    Dit is het grote verschil tussen de G1 (ok, en de iPhone) en de rest van de smart phones die momenteel beschikbaar zijn: de open toegang tot het platform voor  ontwikkelaars om applicaties te ontwikkelen en aan de man te brengen. De tegenghaner van de Apple’s App Store is de Android Market.

    (More …)

    • René 19:34 on February 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Prima verslaggeving van de eerste Android-impressies. Succes met het ontwikkelen van applicaties!

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