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SFZero Game Uses Layar to Document Real-World Missions Accomplished

Adriane Goetz February 28, 2011










SFZero
San Francisco Zero: real-world gaming.

One of the great things about Augmented Reality games is that they encourage users to get out in the real world, move around and sometimes even interact with others face-to-face (gasp!).



The mission-based game SFZero (San Francisco Zero) takes real-world gaming even further, transforming its users’ city, country and really the entire world into a playing field where creativity, guile, collaboration and imagination are rewarded with points, level-ups, badges and notoriety. While the game’s actual AR usage is fairly limited, we still think it’s a cool example of how to merge the video game world with the real world.



SFZero started in San Francisco in 2006 by friends Sean Mahan, Ian Kizu-Blair and Sam Lavigne, who had recently moved to SF from Chicago. Their goal was to get players to venture out into the city independently, make new discoveries and test personal boundaries; the result was an open-source, collaborative production game that has spread to countries across the world.










One player presents her “Fortune Not Cookies” in the form of hollowed-out eggshells.

In SFZero, players earn points by completing real-world tasks (referred to as praxis upon completion) that generally involve exploring the city, interacting with strangers, or creating some form of “public art.”



For example, “The Things We Bury For Our Friends” task requires a player to bury some sort of “treasure,” then send another player (the two must not know each other) hints, photos, etc. to find it. Another task, called “Fortune Not Cookie” requires that players put fortunes into non-traditional fortune telling objects.



Players must submit proof of completing the task, such as photos or video, to the SFZero website. The geotagged proof is added to the SFZero layer, where others can see the name, date and time the task was completed as well as the player who completed it. The layer can also launch the SFZero website for more details, comments, etc. on the completed task.



So far, more than 6,000 players have completed more than 13,000 tasks around the world. The game is almost entirely run by its players, who create tasks and moderate completions. The game is more fun the more players there are in any given city, so join SFZero and become the best tasker in town!

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/238

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Stroll Down San Francisco’s Market Street Like It’s 1899

Chris Cameron February 24, 2011

If you have watched the beautiful, brand new Layar video which we introduced yesterday then you undoubtedly spotted a very interesting layer found only in San Francisco. No? Missed it? Well then be sure to re-watch the video and scrub to around the 48 second mark.



See it now? The layer is called “Historic Market St.” and it was produced by bigBigBang. Using public domain archival footage from 1906 (okay, not exactly 1899, but I was only seven years off), this layer allows you to take a leisurely stroll down Market Street in San Francisco and view video clips showing what the street looked like over 100 years ago.





The video was shot from a camera placed on a street car, providing an interesting point-of-view as the car rolls east down Market Street. The street is filled with people milling about, children running, chaotic horse-drawn buggy traffic jams and these radical new inventions terrorizing the streets - automobiles!



As you walk down Market Street, different segments of the video begin playing, unveiling the early days of the centuries-old street right before your eyes.

The video is part of the archives of Rick Prelinger, a filmmaker and archivist whose massive collection was acquired by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2002. Many of the films of the Prelinger Archives were placed into the public domain by way of the Internet Archive, including the video featured in the Market Street layer.



The Prelinger Archives contain over 60,000 advertising, educational, industrial and amateur films - over 2,000 of which can be accessed on the Internet Archive. Wouldn’t it be great if some enterprising individual decided to gather these films, geotag them and place them in a database connected to a layer? History would come alive on more streets in more cities, not just one main drag in San Francisco. We at Layar think this would be a terrific project.



Looking into the past is one of the truly fascinating and thrilling uses of Augmented Reality as we mentioned not long ago with the use of historic photographs in Layar. Historic Market St. allows you to immerse yourself in the San Francisco of 1906 - just watch out for those darned horse-drawn buggies and crazy drivers!



To view the entire 1906 Market Street film (all 14 minutes of it), be sure to visit the Internet Archive where the video is available to watch or download.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/237

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Layar: Impactful AR in Your Everyday Life

Chris Cameron February 23, 2011

It was over a year an a half ago when Layar co-founder Maarten Lens-FitzGerald posted a video to his YouTube account revealing details of the world’s first augmented reality browser. Today that video has been viewed more than one million times, so we thought it was time to refresh it for 2011.



Today, we are very excited to introduce a brand-spankin’ new video that expresses the vision and philosophy of Layar. Produced by the wonderful people at Campfire Creative, the video below features interviews with the Layar co-founders as well as examples of the impactful augmented reality experiences that live on our platform today.





Some of the really great layers featured in this beautifully-made video include:



Please feel free to spread this video around, embed it on your website or share a link with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks. If you would like to download the video, simply follow this link (Right click and choose “Save Link As”).

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/236

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Layar CEO Authors Foreword to Tomi Ahonen’s “Insider’s Guide to Mobile”

Chris Cameron February 22, 2011

As a former Nokia executive turned consultant and speaker, Tomi Ahonen has bolstered his reputation in the mobile industry by authoring six bestselling hardcover books and three eBooks. His latest book, The Insider’s Guide to Mobile, is a free eBook which details “the customers, services, apps, phones and business of the newest trillion dollar industry.”



The book marks Tomi’s tenth publication, and to celebrate the anniversary he asked Layar CEO Raimo van der Klein to author the book’s foreword. In it, Raimo details his own history in the mobile industry, including his time with Nokia and KPN, as well as his formation of Mobile Monday Amsterdam with fellow Layar co-founders Maarten and Claire.



Additionally, he explains his vision of where the mobile industry lies today.



“Basically now we have entered the third wave of mobile. First was Communication, second was Content and now the third is Context. We are barely scratching the surface of this third wave,” he writes. “The exciting stuff is happening in the middle, between the organized data in the cloud and the actual ‘dumb’ sensor information. In the complete history of content we have never been confronted with creating sensor based dynamic services that fit the context of a user. […] I consider this phase in mobile to be the phase where we will see the true face of this medium.”



You can read the entirety of Raimo’s foreword over on Tomi’s blog, Communities Dominate Brands, and to download Tomi’s free eBook, The Insider’s Guide to Mobile, head on over to the book’s page on Lulu.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/235

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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

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