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Tiananmen SquARed: Memorializing History with AR

Chris Cameron March 9, 2011

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the protests and uprisings that are sweeping through North Africa like wildfire. Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have all seen massive movements of civilians protesting their government, thanks in no small part to the presence and organizational power of social media.



When a dictator’s first strike against protestors is to shut off the Internet, you know that the age of the digital revolution has arrived. The social web is not just helping to fight these battles, but also to remember them.



John Craig Freeman, a digital artist and new media professor at Emerson College, has created several layers promoting social awareness and memorializing pivotal moments in history, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square “Tank Man” incident.



The morning after the Chinese government forcibly removed protestors from Tiananmen Square in Beijing, an unknown man blocked a column of Chinese tanks simply by standing in front of them. Images of the tank vs. man standoff became a well-known symbol of the struggle between the Chinese people and their government at that time.



Freeman has allowed this moment in history to live on through augmented reality. With his Tiananmen SquARed layer, visitors to Beijing can see a 3D representation of the incident appear right before their eyes.



“Although it has been more than twenty years since Tiananman Protest took place in 1989, the authority persistently uses all means erasing the facts that Chinese people pursued democracy in this democratic and anti-corruption movement,” says Freeman in the layer’s description. “History should not be forgotten.”



Freeman’s other layers include “Décharge De Rebut Toxique,” a toxic waste art installation; and “Azadi SquARed,” a digital memorial to Neda Agha-Soltan, an Iranian citizen gunned down during the 2009 Tehran protests.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/244

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Paul Aston’s Pecha Kucha Layer Explains Augmented Reality… in Augmented Reality

Adriane Goetz March 8, 2011










Aston’s Pecha Kucha AR slides are situated along the famous Avenyn street in Gothenburg, Sweden.

If you’re not familiar with Pecha Kucha, it’s a kind of show-and-tell for grownups that began in Tokyo circa 2003 that facilitates learning and networking among creative types.



The phrase “Pecha Kucha” comes from the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat,” which captures the event’s informal, fast-paced agenda in which speakers from various disciplines within the creative field (from architecture to graphic design to performance art) present 20 slides for 20 seconds each on a topic they feel passionate about.



Artist turned mobile developer Paul Aston (a Brit living in Sweden) created a Pecha Kucha layer in order to better illustrate his presentation on Augmented Reality at Pecha Kucha Gothenburg. The presentation layer displays Aston’s 20 slides floating along the side of the road, each with a corresponding 20-second audio file launched from within the layer. It begins with an introduction to Augmented Reality, then progresses into numerous examples and use cases, as well as his own inspiration (The book Spook Country by William Gibson), then ends with a confident prediction for the future of AR and a call-to-action for the listener to get involved.










The giant squid that inspired Aston to get into AR.

Encouraging non-developers to get into AR makes a lot of sense for Aston, considering his own recent transition from “non-techie” to Layar developer. Aston began by using the layer creation tool Hoppala, then immersed himself in tutorials until he felt more confident in his development skills.



The folks behind Pecha Kucha liked Aston’s presentation method so much that they asked to him to create a similar layer in the same location to explain Pecha Kucha to newcomers.



Currently the only way to view Aston’s presentation is from Gothenburg, but we’re twisting his arm to make it visible internationally!



Aston recently accepted our invitation to join the Layar Partner Network as a Pioneer and plans to create more awesome AR content for clients with his company Different Signal; you can contact him at paul@differentsignal.com for business inquiries.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/243

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What Can Be Done with the Layar Platform? 5 Helpful Usecases

Chris Cameron March 7, 2011

Layar has an extremely diverse community of developers creating augmented reality experiences of all shapes and sizes. To give you an idea of the different things that can be done on the Layar platform, we’ve put together a set of case studies featuring some truly unique examples.



Below are five case studies that show the flexibility and capabilities of the Layar platform and our outstanding community of developers. For each, click the “Case Study PDF” link to view the case study in full.



Layar Augmented Office - Case Study PDF
The Layar Augmented Office is an interactive 3D model that you can literally walk into and access information about the company, layer content, job openings and more.




streetARt - Case Study PDF
streetARt is an iPhone application that displays the public art, graffiti, tags and other forms of street art in your neighborhood. The third-party app uses the Layar Player to embed an Augmented Reality view, but it can also be viewed within the Layar app.



Exile on Your Street - Case Study PDF
Exile on Your Street is the official layer for The Rolling Stones, in promotion of the 2010 Exile on Main Street (Rarities Edition) album. Create and add posters in AR, listen to audio tracks, watch videos, purchase music on iTunes, and more.



The Invisible Artist - Case Study PDF
The Invisible Artist is a 3D Augmented Reality guide to 10 of London’s top contemporary art museums.




UAR - Case Study PDF
UAR (Urban Augmented Reality) displays images and 3D models of the past, future and “what might have been” for architecture in the Netherlands.





You can also find these case studies at any time on our Examples page.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/242

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Infiltr.AR Invades the White House and Pentagon

Adriane Goetz March 4, 2011










An artists’ rendering of the Twitter balloon inside the Oval Office.

Layar is nothing without its creative and highly-skilled developer community, so we thought it would be cool to include some blog posts from the mouth of one of the most renowned Layar developers/dreamers/artists we know.



Sander Veenhof (SNDRV) is the man behind some of the coolest and most talked about layers including Biggar, The Game of Life, and the MoMA AR Exhibition. We asked Sander to write about his latest collaboration with Mark Skwarek, a guerilla AR campaign that launched Friday, February 25 (Stay tuned for video coverage from this event as well).



Tweeting to Obama but not getting through? Since February 25th you can now reach him right at his desk in the Oval Office. A virtual Twitter balloon has been placed inside the White House and another one infiltrated the Pentagon using the GPS-based Augmented Reality browser, Layar. The balloons display the latest tweets containing the hashtags #OvalOfficeChat or #PentagonChat respectively.



The placement of the two Augmented Reality balloons was the mission of infiltr.AR, a live augmented reality infiltration event orchestrated from a temporary command centre at Club Karlsson in Amsterdam. It’s the latest experiment in crossing physical borders by members of the Manifest.AR artist group, best known for their previous infiltration project: an unofficial guerrilla exhibition inside the MoMA NYC last year in October.










An artists’ rendering of the Twitter balloon inside the Pentagon press room.

The virtual Twitter balloons inside the White House and the Pentagon can be seen ‘for real’ using Layar. Search and open the layer “INFILTRAR.” When not inside the two buildings, an ‘artist impression’ of the augmented space will appear, including an actual live copy of the Twitter balloon.



Since Manifest.AR members do not have press passes, and most probably never ever will, we are highly curious to see any screenshots of the virtual public message board inside the Pentagon press room, so journalists, give it your best shot! (And Tweet it hashtagged #pentagonchat please).



-Sander Veenhof and Mark Skwarek of Manifest.AR

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/241

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Layar for Symbian is Here!

Chris Cameron March 2, 2011

Today, Layar is very excited to announce that after much development and testing, the Layar Reality Browser is now available on the Symbian platform. This has been a long-awaited and highly anticipated release for Layar, but today we are proud to introduce a truly terrific augmented reality experience for Symbian devices.



Owners of S60 and Symbian^3 devices with GPS, front-facing camera, compass and accelerometer (see list of supported devices below) can now rediscover the world around them using Layar’s augmented reality browser.



“Augmented reality is changing the way people view the world,” said Raimo Van Der Klein, CEO and co-founder of Layar. “Layar’s goal is to bring the AR experience into people’s every day lives and with this offering we are able to provide Nokia users with that rich digital experience on their mobile phones.”



We are proud to help bring augmented reality to masses, and with Nokia and Symbian - which remain juggernauts in the mobile industry with millions of users and devices in the market - we are significantly closer to that goal.



Layar for Symbian is available now for download in the Ovi Store, and is compatible with these devices:


  • Symbian^3 - Nokia N8, Nokia C7, Nokia C6-01, Nokia E7

  • S60 - Nokia N97, Nokia N97-mini


NOTE: It is strongly recommended that you upgrade your device to latest Symbian firmware in order to ensure a smooth augmented reality experience.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/240

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