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  • Joe 08:28 on June 3, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , , browser, content, , , mobile, 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 13:46 on April 21, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , , experience, , mobile   

    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 16:18 on December 19, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , mobile   

    Copenhagen Layer: realtime air quality around you 

    Reality view

    Copenhagen Layer in Reality view

    Now that the Copenhagen Conference is over we are left with a disappointing end statement. Apparently this was the maximum our world leaders could achieve when they got together: the potential was huge, the output (very) disappointing.

    In this light I’m very proud to present a local grass-roots initiative to bring street level measurements of environmental pollution to the real time web and your mobile phone.

    Please meet Copenhagenlayer.org and its Augmented Reality counter part Copenhagen Layer (link opens Layar app on your mobile device, only useful if you’re in Copenhagen).

    So what is it actually?

    It all started with a blog post by Ronni Tino Pedersen in October, about how cool it would be to visualize the local Copenhagen climate and green initiatives as an overlay over the city, using Augmented Reality. There was no clear focus, but people got interested and started to contact him with ideas. And so the plan grew to

    1. take tiny portable environmental measurement devices,
    2. link these to the internet using mobile phones,
    3. have bike messengers drive them around through city traffic,
    4. thus get a real-time cross section of the local environment conditions within the city,
    5. make these data points visible using Mobile Augmented Reality.

    This only could happen by the shared effort of a very enthusiastic virtual team. This team consisted of

    • Ronni Tino Pedersen Strategic online communications @ New Media Days at Danish Broadcasting Corporation – initiator and virtual project manager
    • Michael Setton, CEO of Sensaris.com who provided the sensors (senspods) and real time measurement set-up
    • Tobias Lau, CEO and founder of Socialaction.dk developing environmental projects with a social scientific focus
    • Michael Friis, creator of Folketsting.dk created the site copenhagenlayer.org including the Google Maps version
    • Tomas Skovgaard, architect maa Tomasskovgaard.com made all graphics
    • Peter Vangsbo Madsen, Cowi.com provided specialist advise on air pollution
    • And myself as data integrator and developer of the Layar implementation

    The result is impressive, using your mobile phone you can experience what the environmental conditions are in your direct neighborhood, and if you’re lucky this data is measured just a few minutes ago! Although not yet directly related to the big picture of the Copenhagen Conference with its focus on CO2 reduction, this project may evolve so that a future version can even visualize the real-time carbon footprint of traffic in the city.

    To quote Ronni Tino Pedersen:

    I actually think copenhagenlayer in it’s current state will make a greater impact as part of the COP15 long tail than it could have during the summit. By focusing on the enabling possibilities of street level measurements we can now show some grassroots action that the politicians couldn’t. This is a good story with a fair chance of making it through the journalistic filters.

    And so it is indeed.

    Encoded uri: layar://cop15

    Are you in Copenhagen? Then jump in: open Layer with the Copenhagen Layer

    Just keep in mind that this project is in its early stages. The measurements are not very well calibrated yet. Interpretation is always risky and indicative at best, but the trends are real and it is very revealing to see the enormous difference of being surrounded by busy traffic or being amidst a calm city park. There are lots and lots more data available from the senspods than NOx alone, these will be integrated once a solid model for interpretation will be established. And with more sensors and more data points available all kind of aggregated views can be constructed and more reliable conclusions drawn. Heatmaps, rush hour vs. mid day traffic, summer vs winter, the sky is the limit.

    This is the start of something great!

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  • Joe 01:39 on November 20, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , mobile, , , ,   

    TweepsAround now uses Geotagging 

    Local tweet in Tweeps Around

    Local tweet in Tweeps Around

    Right now Twitter released their long awaited Geotagging API and activated the user interface for every user: Think Globally, Tweet Locally!

    This allows every twitter user who uses a (mobile) device that is capable of determining their location, to annotate their tweets with exact location. This makes Tweeps Around so much more useful! Up to now, the location had to be parsed from the user’s profile location field, which some clients indeed dutifully update with the location of the last posted tweet. But this is often rather inaccurate, as the last update is kept when no location data is available.

    Twitter: mobile geo activation screen

    Twitter: mobile geo activation screen

    So, we will get real exact locations and – as can be expected – many more location annotated tweets. That is, if users are willing to activate the geotagging setting and use the feature. It is switched off by default, for privacy reasons, so you have to manually activate it under your twitter account settings (the mobile settings lead to just one activate button).

    Be sure to check out Tweeps Around the coming days and let’s see how fast this catches on!

    BTW: in Tweeps Areond, the officially geotagged tweets are indicated with Distance 234m, whereas the guessed locations are prefixed with a tilde character, like this: Distance ~234m.

    Direct link to Tweeps Around Layer (open from your mobile phone, iPhone or Android).

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

    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 17:03 on September 24, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: 3d, , , , , mobile, , opengl, Second Life, , virtual tour, Virtual world   

    Layar 3D: Second Life meets Real World 

    How cool would it be if Second Life was not constrained to its own virtual world, but existed right here, as an overlay on the real world around you?

    I tried it at least twice, but never really “got into” Second Life. Maybe because it is too “virtual” for me, too much disconnected from real people and real places. But what if the existing environment could be enhanced with – well… anything goes! Some examples:

    • A virtual tour through an ancient Roman settlement which existed once around the 3rd age
    • A virtual guide telling you about the history of a building (with audio and video)
    • Time travel: see this place how it evolved over time
    • Architectural development: project 3D renderings of a future building on a construction site
    • Yourself with a virtual “skin”, symbolizing some character you play in a role playing game
    • …and then: options to connect in the real world, connect the real you with the game character somehow
    • Education: labeling items such as buildings, trees, traffic signs and attach quizzes about their meaning
    • Remember the crazy Japanese gadget called Lovegetty? Oh well…
    • See? really, the sky is the limit!

    That was one of the dreams I had when thinking about the future possibilities of Augmented Reality applications, such as Layar, but then equipped with a real 3D rendering engine and real-time update possibilities.

    It looks like this future is actually right around the corner with the announcement of Layar 3D, yesterday. Not all of this will be readily available – let alone work smooth enough on today’s mobile devices, but the start is definitely here and soon available on a handset near you.

    Some videos from the announcement embedded below, be sure to check out the Layar 3D site as well!

    (More …)

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