Layar

Blog

Watson, Augmented Reality and the Future

Chris Cameron February 21, 2011

One of my favorite news programs is On the Media, a weekly review of media which is broadcasted on National Public Radio (NPR) in the States. Over this past weekend, hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield debated the current status of technology and the Internet in our lives and whether we are following the “yellow brick road” to technological utopia or hurdling clumsily toward a Terminator/Matrix-esque dystopia.



The discussion inevitably arrived on the question of Watson - IBM’s fancy new super computer with 15 terabytes of human knowledge and an itchy trigger finger that easily defeats futile carbon-based lifeforms at a game of our own creation: Jeopardy!



Does Watson’s victory signal the end is nigh for human intelligence as we know it and the coming of SkyNet? Or will Watson be the first step on the road toward a utopian blending of humans and computers?



Eventually, Brooke and Bob’s discussion turned to the creation of “The Bionic Man” - the idea that in the future, technology and humans will become blended as one. As Brooke points out, some of this technology is available today in the form of Augmented Reality, and that the idea of “Google eyes” or “Terminator eyes” is not that far off.



University of Washington professor Babak Parviz explains that even today, we have the technology, albeit “very rudimentary,” to display basic text onto contact lenses. But years down the line, as this technology develops, will humans be better off for having the world’s information quite literally at a glance?



Garfield argues that technology of this sort would allow us to filter out topics and ideas with which we disagree, placing “high tech blinders” on our view of the world. Certainly any advancement in technology such as this could potentially be used in less than the friendliest of ways, but that is to be expected at a certain degree.



We here at Layar side with Brooke, who feels that bionic contact lenses and Augmented Reality glasses “makes us only more of what were going to be anyway,” and we’re proud to be one of the companies helping to lead the way toward this vision of the future.



But what do you think? Is all of this data a good thing? And what could intelligent super-computers like Watson mean for augmented reality? If you think you have an answer, please share it in the comments or on Quora!



And click here to listen to the On the Media segment about the future of technology and augmented reality!

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/234

Email this article
 

Meet Layar: Nanda Jaspers

Chris Cameron February 18, 2011

It’s that time again to learn all about one of the many great employees that make the magic at Layar possible. This time, we look to someone who does a lot of the “behind the scenes” work at Layar, making sure this well-oiled machine remains … well-oiled! Nanda Jaspers is our Office/HR/Management Assistant and takes care of virtually all of the small hidden tasks that keep the company going. Here’s our interview with Nanda!



So tell us about you and where you’re from…



My full name is Nanda Anna Carolina Mathias Jaspers. It’s a unique combination of names. Anna is the name which they gave me when I got baptized and Carolina and Mathias are the given names of my godmother and father. I was born in Maastricht, a lovely stress-free city in the south of the Netherlands. I lived there until I was 18 years old but I still try to spend enough time there.



And what about your family?



My entire family is active and big! My parents have many brothers and sisters and the whole family is about 80 people big! I also have an older sister and a younger brother who both live close around me here in Amsterdam.



When I was young we did lots of activities like travelling, fun parks, weekends to Ardennes in Belgium, etc. I was always playing songs on my harmonica in the back of the car when I was only 7 years old!



Harmonica? Any other special talents we’re unaware of?



Well, except my musical talent I love playing computer games and I own a natural compass so I never get lost anywhere in the world!



What did you study in school?



I studied Hotel Management. I had my first “big” adventure by doing an internship in the Caribbean when I was 18 years old. After coming home I graduated and realized that I loved travelling and exploring new places so much more than studying! I followed another study in Tourism Management at an international high school and then worked in Greece for 5 years.



And now you’re back and working at Layar. Describe your typical day.



My work at Layar is never the same each day. I started operating the office and while the team started to grow I quickly had more work on the HR level. Now, one year later, I make sure that each new employee has a perfect on-boarding experience at Layar. In many other companies a new hire has to find his own way the first days and that’s tiring. I try to answer most of the general questions so a new member can fully focus on his or her new role! Anywhere the Management Team need assistance I’m also in charge of that.



What do you like best about working at Layar?



My role changes as the company changes quickly and I love this variety in work and days. That’s sometimes also difficult but challenging to me!



Be sure to check out the Layar Jobs page to see our list of vacancies!

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/233

Email this article
 

Layar’s 3D Augmented Office at Mobile World Congress, and an Introduction to Virtual Commerce

Adriane Goetz February 17, 2011










Layar 3D augmented office.
Outside view of the Layar Augmented Office.

As we mentioned last week, Layar is attending the 2011 GSMA Mobile World Congress conference/exhibition in Barcelona from 14-17 February, and we weren’t about to show up empty-handed.



Each afternoon at MWC Fountain, Layer is holding an Augmented Reality meetup where we show off our new Augmented Office layer, an interactive 3D model that you can literally walk into and access information about the company, layer content, job openings and more.



This layer was created especially for MWC, so it is only visible from Barcelona, but there is also a public version that can be viewed from anywhere in the world.



The 3D office combines elements of virtual reality with AR, enabling a 360 degree view of the space. You can look up at the multilevel ceiling, down at the tile and wooden floors, and around through the many windows where you can still see the “real” world.



Turn or walk around in the office and you see posters on the walls of some of our Layar Partner Network members, where you can touch the pop-up screen to visit their website, email them or follow them on Twitter. You also find portraits of our co-founders and our reps at MWC that you can contact or connect with on Twitter right from the layer.













Layar 3D augmented office.
Inside view of the Layar Augmented Office.

Continuing the office tour, you see posters on the windows for five of our coolest international layers that you can launch directly from inside the Augmented Office layer (A layer within a layer? Now we’re approaching Inception theory—be careful!).



Finally, near the doorway, you see a monitor on the wall that says “Layar News & Jobs” where you can see the current job/internship opportunities and read the latest news on our blog.



The concept of an “augmented office” allows any company to become an international company. You can place an office in the heart of Tokyo, Dubai or at Time Square in New York City.



But just as easily as you can place an office, you can place a store, selling merchandise through Paypal in AR! Case and point: Hostage Wear Shop. Hostage Wear is Layar’s first AR store, selling hats, t-shirts and other urban skate/streetwear products directly from the layer—there’s even a half-pipe in the store! (Although we don’t recommend trying to skateboard in AR… yet).










Layar 3D augmented office.
Outside view of the Hostage Wear shop.

Funnily enough, the Hostage Wear Shop layer actually started out as a joke. Herve Pellarin, creator of both Layar’s Augmented Office and Hostage Wear Shop (and the concept of virtual commerce in general), originally made the layer for his best friend to, in Pellarin’s words, “shut his mouth” about the frustration and expense of constantly having to make the tradeshow circuit to gain brand recognition and sell merchandise.



As anyone working in AR knows, monetization is a major issue at the moment, so virtual commerce is an exciting and much welcomed new element to the platform.



Pellarin is the man behind French development company HPSC, a member of the Layar Partner Network. He has made virtual commerce his primary focus, embarking on several new [mostly confidential] projects, and continues to push the boundaries in AR. Pellarin may still wear the coding hat, but assures us “I’m not a programmer. I’m a dreamer; an AR-chitect.”



You can contact Herve Pellarin at nocomp@gmail.com or follow @nocomp on Twitter.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/232

Email this article
 

Layar 5.0 Beta Animation Features Spotted in the Wild!

Chris Cameron February 16, 2011

Last week, we opened up a beta release of Layar 5.0 for Android featuring new sharing and animation capabilities (as well as a few other handy improvements). We were very excited to get this version of the Layar client in the hands of developers to see what wonderful things they could come up with using these new features, and already we’re seeing some great stuff.



Developer and former Layar intern Anthony Maës just recently put together a nice looking layer that shows off the new animation functionality. If you’re running the beta on your Android device, search for “Ferris Wheel” and check out Anthony’s work. Or just watch this YouTube video:





The layer features a 3D model of a spinning ferris wheel with balloons floating around it as carnival music plays in the background. It’s a terrific example of some of the possibilities that Layar 5.0 will introduce for developers.



Anthony created the ferris wheel with two separate 3D models; the wheel and the supports. Being careful about how he designed the models allowed him to use Layar 5.0’s rotation attributes to simulate a spinning ferris wheel. To hear more from Anthony and see the source code, check out his post on the Layar Developer Support Forum.



As another example of animation in Layar 5.0, the ARcade layer has updated its 3D icons to include animation as well. Now the game’s tokens spin in the air and those ever familiar PacMan ghosts have shifty eyes.



If you’re running the beta client, have a look at these layers and let us know when you find other great examples of 5.0 features in the wild!

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/231

Email this article
 

The Invisible Artist Layer Guides You Through London’s Art Museums

Adriane Goetz February 15, 2011

Perusing London’s wide array of art museums, a personal tour guide is the ultimate way to augment your experience; so when a charming British artist dandified in a variety of custom suits appears before you at each of London’s top museums offering commentary about its history and architecture as well as a list of exhibiting artists, you find his “presence” pleasant and helpful despite his disarming lack of flesh and bone. 

As you progress from museum to museum, however, you begin to question this “invisible artist’s” motives. 

Artist and Derby University professor John Goto came up with the concept for The Invisible Artist in a period of frustration after being dropped from a gallery’s books. Ruminating over the politics of the art world, where an artist’s visibility requires the approval of a small group of “gatekeepers,” Goto began sketching the headless figures that would eventually become the 3D models in his Invisible Artist layer.

The nature of Goto’s frustration fit perfectly with Augmented Reality’s open space platform because Goto could place his art at any location—or in this case, at any museum he desired, without permission, and anyone (with the Layar app, that is) could see it. The result was a subversive layer satirizing the bureaucracy and lack of diversity of London’s contemporary art scene (notice how the list of exhibiting artists contains the same few names at every museum).

While its derisive nature is clever, the “must-see” factor in this layer is its exquisite 3D modeling. Peering through your mobile phone at these life-sized figures, you can see the shadow behind every fold in the artist’s clothing, the texture of each material, and the soft glow of London’s cloudy sky gently reflected off of each garment.

The Invisible Artist is an excellent example of what can be achieved on the Layar platform with the right combination of skills in the artistic as well as the technical fields. In order to build this layer, Goto utilized his artistic talent to create the 3D models, then colleague Matthew Leach (from whom Goto first learned about Augmented Reality) used his development skills to set up a server, place the models, and program functionality to make for the best possible user experience.

The Invisible Artist is Goto and Leach’s second layer in their Augmented Reality repertoire; their first, West End Blues, explores the history and sounds of London’s jazz and blues musicians. The two have recently become Pioneers in the Layar Partner Network, and you can look forward to more groundbreaking AR content from them in the future.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/230

Email this article
 
We use cookies to improve our services. Don’t worry, they don’t store personal or sensitive information and you can disable them at any time in your browser settings.