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Blog: Industry News

Maarten on Augmenting the Television Industry

Chris Cameron June 17, 2011

Last month our very own Maarten Lens-FitzGerald was invited to speak at the Eurovision TV Summit 2011, the world’s “leading event for public service media professionals.” The event features many forums for discussion among contributors and decision-makers in the public service media field, but is capped off with its keynote event, the Common Focus Day.



The Common Focus Day featured discussions ranging from engaging and entertaining younger viewers to how public broadcasters can adapt to the fast-moving demands of a more connected audience. Several speakers addressed Social TV and Interactive TV, and encouraged public broadcasters to create content that could be used to this end.



This year’s focus was on television stations as “multi-platform media services,” so Maarten stood up to talk about the next great media platform: augmented reality. It’s an interesting take on how an existing media platform can expand its capabilities with this up-and-coming industry, and worth a watch. Check out the video on the Eurovision TV Summit website (Maarten’s talk is video #7 in the player), or by clicking the player link below!



Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/302

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ARDevCamp Sydney Brings AR Down Under

Chris Cameron June 14, 2011

Over the weekend, ARDevCamp held its very first event in Australia, bringing a Layar-sponsored gathering of augmented reality developers to Sydney. Rob Manson - the man behind MOB Labs and Certified Layar Creation Tool buildAR - hosted the event and posted a great overview of the day’s activities on his blog. Here are a few selections from Rob’s report.



The first ARDevCamp in Sydney was a great event with 40-50 people attending throughout the day. It was held at the Powerhouse Museum in their ThinkSpace providing interactive whiteboards, projectors and laptops for those who needed them. Throughout the day we covered a lot of topics and there was a lot of interesting discussion and debate generated.



Early in the day we covered a basic introduction to Augmented Reality in general and discussed the difference between geo-located, marker based and computer vision based AR. It also gave me a chance to rant a little about my views on the currently limited definition of AR.



@alexmyoung then presented an overview of the current state of interaction available in AR applications. She covered the “4 key modes of AR UX” outlined on the http://AR-UX.com site and it was a great chance to review and debate how projective interfaces like Sixth Sense fit into this analysis. This also raised some interesting discussion around gesture recognition, barehand computing and the opportunities for defining standard languages and norms in this space.



Then @DamonOehlman ran an interesting session on WebGL and I think a lot of people’s eyes were opened to the opportunity that is rapidly evolving here. We had some initial hurdles at the beginning to configure the browsers to support WebGL but quickly overcame that and were able to demonstrate the Mixing Reality demo along with some others. This is a great match for where this technology is really at. It doesn’t work out of the box and the average web user doesn’t even know it’s possible…but without too much effort at all you can get some mind blowing content running in your browser.



Warren Armstrong also gave an overview of the (Un)seen Sculptures exhibition that uses Layar to present art from a wide range of artists at venues like the Sydney Opera House during the Vivid Festival.



[…]



The rest of the afternoon people spent hacking on various projects with a lot of people using http://buildAR.com to start creating layers like the #ARDevCamp layer. @absolut_todd was even able to quickly take the list of Victorian Microbreweries provided by http://data.gov.au to create what is obviously a very useful layer 8)



We wound up the day with a quick play with the Parrot AR Drones and then all headed off for drinks at the Pumphouse which were very kindly sponsored by the team at Layar.



Out of the day came about 100 tweets which reached over 47,000 users. Since then a number of people have also created some great blog posts about the day.



We at Layar are very excited to see the love of augmented reality spreading to every hemisphere of the planet! In fact, following this event in Sydney there are a few more events being planned in the area, including Brisbane, Melbourne and New Zealand.



Photo by Halans.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/299

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Microsoft Demos Layar on Windows 7 Phone at MIX11

Adriane Goetz April 15, 2011

This week Layar attended Microsoft’s MIX11 event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where the corporate vice president of Windows Phone, Joe Belfiore, showed a demo of the Layar app running on Windows Phone 7 during his keynote, making Layar quite possibly the first Augmented Reality application to run on the Windows Phone 7 platform!



The demo was shown to support Windows Phone 7’s new “Mango” update’s features, which support Augmented Reality applications by allowing developers to access motion sensors (namely the accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and location sensors) as well as the camera.



To demonstrate Mango’s new AR capabilities, Microsoft’s implementation of the Layar browser showed a layer called “Tweets @ MIX11” that displayed tweets from the conference. While no official plans to offer Layar in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace have been put into motion yet, the demo shows that the platform is now well-suited to support sensor-intensive applications like Layar.



This video is a short clip of the 2-hour keynote, but you can watch the presentation it its entirety via Channel 9.





Would you like to see Layar on Windows Phone 7? Leave a comment!

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/263

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Layar’s Maarten Lens-FitzGerald Talks Open Data on Dutch Radio

Chris Cameron April 1, 2011

There is data all around us. We just don’t always know it. Real estate data, legal data, government data - it’s all there, and most of it is publicly available. Augmented reality is one of the best ways to visualize some of this data, helping us gain a deeper insight into the world around us.



This is the idea of open data, and such was the topic for discussion on the Dutch business radio station BNR recently as Layar’s own Maarten Lens-FitzGerald shared his opinions.



Maarten gave his favorite examples of open data on Layar, such as the Recovery.org layer, which showed where stimulus money was dispersed throughout America. Users could see which institutions and organizations were given money from the U.S. government, as well as how much.



As Layar grows to include more functionality, Maarten hopes that layers like these can be improved on to create a more engaging experience. Instead of just seeing icons to locate the various places money was doled out, why not see 3D piles of cash stacked on one another in correlation with the amount of money? The scene would be a 3D graphical display of data that you could literally walk around in.



Other items mentioned include the Spot Crime layer which uses public data to display crime reports around you, and a layer in the U.K. which shows the value of homes around you. All this information, which is publicly available, becomes much more powerful when put into context in our everyday lives.



So if you are a Dutchophone, you can listen to the entire interview here (sorry, no English version).

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/257

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Ricky Gervais: AR is “A Load of Bollocks”

Chris Cameron March 21, 2011

If his performance at the Golden Globes earlier this year said anything about Ricky Gervais, it’s that the comedian doesn’t pull his punches or censor his opinions. Such was also the case on a recent episode of “The Ricky Gervais Show,” an animated HBO series based on the podcast of the same name.



But this time Gervais’ victim wasn’t the low-hanging fruit of Hollywood. Instead, Gervais has let it known that he thinks augmented reality is “a load of bollocks.” Gervais wasn’t pontificating on the latest trends in technology. He was engaged in a lively, comedic discussion with his fellow show stars Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington in which the later was discussing his vision for the future.



After pointing out that in the future, the human species will be significantly weaker in strength, pants will be evolutionarily eliminated from existence and all of our food will be consumed in a blended paste form, Karl suggests the idea of augmented reality technology within an everyday pair of bifocals.



“Everything that’s real, you’re not looking at that anymore. This is really the future,” Karl says. “If you’re a young kid and you like the idea of living in the urban ghetto with all the graffiti on the walls, you can see that.”



“What you mean is that the stuff that’s there in the real world is being digitally reimagined in your glasses,” adds Merchant. “So what was a nice country lane is suddenly now an urban ghetto.”



Those familiar with augmented reality can immediately recognize Karl’s vision of the future, and one could say that this technology is not far off. The building blocks of such a future are being placed as we speak. But Gervais wasn’t convinced.



“Absolutely mental. Pointless. Won’t ever work. Absolutely one of the maddest things you’ve ever said,” he retorts. “That’s a load of bollocks.”



Obviously, we disagree with Mr. Gervais, but he’s still entitled to his opinion. Check out this YouTube clip of the discussion of the future (AR shows up at 3:53) or watch the embedded version after the jump and let us know what you think of Gervais’ dismissal of AR.



We’re with you, Karl!



Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/251

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