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Layar’s visit to the US – first stop: New York

Claire Boonstra August 12, 2010

The USA are by far the biggest market for Layar in terms of usage and demand from big brands - many major US or global advertisers contact us every week for wanting a cool AR experience. But unlike Europe which has a very established Layar developer community, we don’t have a wide array of experienced and active local US Layar developers and agencies to connect the big advertisers with.

Brands like National Geographic therefore chose TABWorldmedia from the Netherlands, and Quiznos partnered with Canada-based Winvolve.

We at Layar are highly committed to serving our biggest market in the best possible way. This trip is the first step towards building a local US presence, to learn about local needs and insights and to enable motivated existing and potential Layar developers and agencies in serving their clients in the best possible way.

The team visiting consists of Claire (co-founder),  Matt who’s running the commercial department, Community manager Maurice and Marc from Hoppala - a Layar developer representing the Layar Partner Network.

In this travel report you can read along to what has been keeping us busy on our first stop: New York!

Amazing content in NYC
Apart from Matt, who is a New York and SFO veteran, the other three including me had never been to NYC. We stayed in a very nice place in SoHo, the perfect place to try out my recently bought camera for some cool pictures and Layar screenshots from my window on the 15th floor!

What immediately struck me was the high density of local layers and the literally endless Stream of objects nearby. There were over 25 layers to be found in the local tab and the first 20 or so results in my Layar Stream were never more than 200 meters away, showing restaurants, Tweepsaround, apartments for rent etc etc.
Being a member of the Yellow Team on the Layar game Conquar, I didn’t find much to conquer as somebody from the Yellow team had already taken over the Greater New York area :-) Next time I’ll challenge the audience to make my Conquar life a bit more interesting…

Even though we didn’t have much time for sightseeing, I HAD to visit Ground Zero. There is a layer showing the Twin Towers in 3D, exactly where they used to be and I just had to see it there.

Let me first tell you that Ground Zero is simply impressive. It literally is an open wound and even though construction works are ongoing and the signs are showing the designs of what will arise, it is a strange open place in the dense forest of high rise buildings.

But experiencing the Twin Towers in Augmented Reality was truly impressive and even an emotional experience. I tweeted the screenshots and received some emotional reactions. Some guy asked me what I was doing and I gave him my phone - He was amazed. We’ll put up a video soon.

Layar event
The Layar event on Tuesday evening was a great success. We hoped to have a dedicated audience of (potential) Layar creators rather than big audience of only vaguely interested people and got everything we wanted. People drove and flew in from as far as Philadelphia, Connecticut and even Seattle only to come and see us.

I showed some of the coolest Layar cases and gave a general introduction to the platform, Matt shared the latest usage statistics and the different platforms and handsets to which Layar is being distributed. Maurice provided background info on how Layar facilitates content creation and Marc gave a step by step explanation of the technical side of Layar and how you can even create layers if you can’t code using Hoppala Augmentation. Presentations will soon be online (as soon as we have decent wifi).

The audience was very active in terms of questions and sharing ideas. Some already had experience building layers or other AR experiences, others were from an ad agency interested in adding Layar to their portfolio and some even planning to set up an agency focusing also on Layar development and there were some influential AR bloggers in the audience such as Chris Grayson and Tish Shute.

I interviewed some of them on background and their AR dream - will post these videos with interesting thoughts when I’m back in the Netherlands.

Fire Fighters
The event took place in the New York Fire Museum. This was arranged by Richard Jansen, a Dutch fire fighter who sees huge potential in using Layar to better understand the context when there’s a fire or rescue operation. When there’s 8 minutes to judge, you want to have a good understanding of the building you’re about to enter, hazardous materials, explosives, water depth etc. Here’s a presentation he made on how he believes Layar can help in bringing all this information into the hands of the fire fighters, without having to invest in expensive hardware solutions.

Over the weekend, Richard also created a 9/11 fire fighter memorial layer. Screenshots soon to online.

New members of the LPN

We had great one on one meetings with agencies and brands in NYC. We signed up one new member of the Layar Partner Network. A huge media agency and publisher working on a fantastic Layar campaign for a major global brand . The campaign will start next week so we’ll tell you more when it’s live.

All in all a very fruitful first short visit to New York. A next time, I would like to do a ‘10 agencies in 3 days’ round, so if you’re an (advertising or web development) agency in New York and interested to see me personally, please let me know.

Next stop: SFO

I’m writing this article on board of the flight to San Francisco, where we will have more interesting meetings as well as another Layar event, Thursday the 12th, 6PM at the Adaptive Path offices! Please join us - here’s more info and where you can RSVP



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