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Uncovering Civil War History with Layar

Chris Cameron January 18, 2011

Here on the Layar blog we have featured many layers that help us peer into the past with photographs and historical information. Augmented Reality has enormous educational potential both in and out the classroom, and one layer is helping visitors of old battlefields to envision history.



The layer “Battle of Franklin Sites” shows Layar users POIs associated with the historic American Civil War battle in Franklin, Tennessee. These include historic buildings, military cemeteries, medical facilities, locations of notable deaths, and even models of the front battle lines. Some practical tourist information, such as the location of nearby public restrooms, is also included.



Tourism officials in Franklin are hoping that using emerging mobile technology like Augmented Reality will help attract and engage visitors as the 150th anniversary of the war approaches in 2014. Why visit an old battlefield only to stand around and imagine what happened where? With this layer, visitors can use their mobile phones to see exactly where the battle lines were drawn.



Interestingly enough, this isn’t the only project using Augmented Reality in conjunction with the history of the American Civil War. The Civil War Augmented Reality Project is an effort by teachers in Pennsylvania to use the technology to enhance student experiences at historic Civil War sites. Along with mobile applications, the group hopes to install stationary “pay binoculars” which they hope will attract less technical visitors to engage with Augmented Reality.



These historical sites are prime targets just waiting to be enhanced by great Augmented Reality experiences. Soon, gone will be the days of tour guides saying, “A long time ago, important evens transpired right here on this ground.” Instead they will allow the visitors to see for themselves with Augmented Reality.



Layer: Battle of Franklin Sites
Location: Franklin, TN, U.S.A.
Required: iPhone or Android device
Developer: GDM

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/222

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AR and the City: Layar in New York

Gene Becker January 12, 2011

Layar’s U.S.-based AR Strategist Gene Becker will be in New York City next week. Here’s a message from Gene about what he’s looking ahead to.



New York City is one of the global hotspots for AR activity, and it’s definitely time for a Layar roadtrip!



I’ll be there all next week doing my AR Strategy thing: meetings with brands, agencies and partners, making and play-testing layers, and generally stirring up excitement for mobile AR in 2011. I’ll also be attending the excellent ARNY meetup on Tuesday Jan 18th, where I will show some demos and talk about the latest Layar news.



If you’re in town, I hope you’ll come to ARNY and say hello. It’s going to be an action packed week, and I’m looking forward to connecting with a lot of old and new friends. If you’d like to arrange a meeting, drop me a line at gene@layar.com.



Photo by Jerry Ferguson Photography on Flickr.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/221

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Meet Layar: Dirk Groten

Chris Cameron January 10, 2011

As we enter the second week of January it’s time again to get to know one of Layar’s many great team members. This week we step it up a notch, as we hear from Dirk Groten, Layar’s Chief Technology Officer.



Dirk has been with Layar nearly since the beginning, and helped turned what was once just an app into a platform for third-party developers. Here’s our Q&A with the CTO.



Name, rank and serial number, soldier! Where are you from?



Long story. I was born in Luxemburg and grew up in Luxemburg, Paris, Johannesburg, Geneva and Zurich. Quite a bit of traveling actually, always following my dad where his new job was. My father is from Germany, my mother Dutch and we’ve always spoken French at home.



Living in South Africa as a kid was great and I enjoyed celebrating Christmas on the beach. After we moved to Switzerland, the first time we walked in the mountains and a cow moved behind a bush, I ran away thinking it might be a lion. Swiss wildlife huh?



I have a sister, she’s 18 months younger and has four kids (two girls and two twin boys). She lives in Zurich and the whole family got the Swiss nationality a month ago.



Your education must have been quite hectic with all that moving.



I went to French schools at all the places we lived. The nice thing about the (very centralized) French school system is that the curriculum is exactly the same in all French schools, wherever in the world. So if you move places a lot, like we did, even in the middle of a school year you’ll open the text book in your new school at exactly the same page as you left in your previous school.



At least that transition is easy, although you still need to make new friends and get used to the new teachers. That’s the hardest part of being dragged along around the world as a kid. After school, I studied physics at the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and did a PhD in physics at Leiden University here in the Netherlands.



So what do you do here at Layar?



I’m CTO at Layar, so I manage the entire development team and R&D. Lately I’ve been very busy recruiting new developers for our teams in Amsterdam, Kiev and Donetsk. Also with our current growth I’ve been structuring our processes quite a bit.



We’re not a startup with 3 developers anymore so we’ve had to make some more formal agreements on our development process. During a typical day I have many meetings where we decide on new features, APIs and technologies for Layar.



And before Layar?



I used to work at KPN Mobile, a mobile telecom operator. I was involved in specifying the handsets and platform for i-mode, the first mobile internet services in Europe. It didn’t turn out to become a big success, the iPhone was the breakthrough for mobile Internet.



But I’ve been hooked up on checking my mail, searching stuff on Google and checking weather and the public transport time tables on my mobile phone since 2001 already. i-mode worked pretty well actually!



What do you like most about working at Layar?



The constant changes are the most fun part. Every month new faces, new ideas and new technologies. We’ve got to follow our instinct closely, as this is unchartered territory.



There isn’t a text book that can tell you what your next move needs to be, as a rational guy that usually bases decisions on good argumentation, I was surprised to see how strong our instincts are and how they keep us sharp.



And finally, what do you enjoy outside of Layar and technology?



I love the mountains, having spent more than 15 years in Switzerland. Mountain biking, skiing and trekking are my favorite activities. I’ve walked two weeks on the Pacific Crest trail in Washington and that’s been one of the most exhilarating experience due to the pristine nature. But also climbing the Mont Dolent on skis or the Mont Ventoux by bicycle are achievements I’m proud of.



My favorite musician is definitely Bach. The Matthew’s Passion and Christmas Oratorio are masterpieces which can’t leave anyone unmoved.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/220

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Layar 4.0 for iPhone Available Now!

Chris Cameron January 4, 2011

With the new year upon us, we here at Layar thought what beter way to ring it in than to release a new version of Layar for the iPhone! Right now, anyone with an iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS can go to the App Store and download Layar 4.0!



So what’s new in version 4.0? The most noticeable update is support for the gyroscope in the iPhone 4. Now when you look around your world with Layar, objects will move across your screen in closer sync with your motions. This creates a much smoother experience and takes Augmented Reality another step towards the blending of the digital and real world.



Also new in this version is an updated interface for the Camera View. When viewing a layer, you’ll see an Info button and a button to switch between Camera, List and Map Views. Clicking the Info button will let you see more info about that layer, add it to your favorites, view layer options, switch to Bird’s Eye View or calibrate the horizon.



And finally, the other addition you will notice in Layar 4.0 for iPhone is the ability to use iOS multi-tasking and app switching. A double tap of the home button on your iPhone will bring up your recently used apps, and you can use this feature to switch back and forth without losing your place in Layar!



You may also notice that we have redesigned the Download section of our Website with more detailed descriptions of the iPhone and Android versions of Layar.



We hope you enjoy the update, and Happy New Year!

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/219

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Season’s Greetings from Layar! What’s Your Holiday Wish?

Chris Cameron December 23, 2010

It’s that time of year again. The most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes. A time to reconnect with friends and family and reflect on the past year over delicious food, thoughtful gifts and fun in the snow.



For Layar, this has been an amazing year of growth in which we have grown out of our infancy, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t have a little fun once in a while! That’s why we’ve created a special interactive layer for the Christmas holiday.



Fire up Layar on your iPhone or Android device and search the catalog for “Xmas Layar” and you’ll find a layer made for us by our friends over at C2K. No matter where you are, you are immediately encircled by photos of the entire Layar team. Clicking on one our photos will let you see Christmas wishes from each of us. If you’re feeling mischievous, feel free to toss a snowball at us. It’s okay, we won’t be mad, it’s all part of the holiday fun!



If you like you can send us your own wishes or responses via email from the layer, and keeping with the spirit of the holidays, you could win a gift from Layar. The three most original Christmas wishes we receive will be awarded with a Layar hoodie sweatshirt, so go ahead and share your wishes with us!



As for us here at Layar, we are very excited for what 2011 will bring for the community, and we can’t wait to help usher in the next wave impactful Augmented Reality experiences. Happy holidays and happy new year to all!



If you’re reading this on your mobile device, click here to immediately launch this layer!



Layer: Xmas Layar
Location: Worldwide
Developer: C2K

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/218

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