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Blog: Meet Layar

Layar’s visit to the US – first stop: New York

Claire Boonstra August 12, 2010

The USA are by far the biggest market for Layar in terms of usage and demand from big brands - many major US or global advertisers contact us every week for wanting a cool AR experience. But unlike Europe which has a very established Layar developer community, we don’t have a wide array of experienced and active local US Layar developers and agencies to connect the big advertisers with.

Brands like National Geographic therefore chose TABWorldmedia from the Netherlands, and Quiznos partnered with Canada-based Winvolve.

We at Layar are highly committed to serving our biggest market in the best possible way. This trip is the first step towards building a local US presence, to learn about local needs and insights and to enable motivated existing and potential Layar developers and agencies in serving their clients in the best possible way.

The team visiting consists of Claire (co-founder),  Matt who’s running the commercial department, Community manager Maurice and Marc from Hoppala - a Layar developer representing the Layar Partner Network.

In this travel report you can read along to what has been keeping us busy on our first stop: New York!

Amazing content in NYC
Apart from Matt, who is a New York and SFO veteran, the other three including me had never been to NYC. We stayed in a very nice place in SoHo, the perfect place to try out my recently bought camera for some cool pictures and Layar screenshots from my window on the 15th floor!

What immediately struck me was the high density of local layers and the literally endless Stream of objects nearby. There were over 25 layers to be found in the local tab and the first 20 or so results in my Layar Stream were never more than 200 meters away, showing restaurants, Tweepsaround, apartments for rent etc etc.
Being a member of the Yellow Team on the Layar game Conquar, I didn’t find much to conquer as somebody from the Yellow team had already taken over the Greater New York area :-) Next time I’ll challenge the audience to make my Conquar life a bit more interesting…

Even though we didn’t have much time for sightseeing, I HAD to visit Ground Zero. There is a layer showing the Twin Towers in 3D, exactly where they used to be and I just had to see it there.

Let me first tell you that Ground Zero is simply impressive. It literally is an open wound and even though construction works are ongoing and the signs are showing the designs of what will arise, it is a strange open place in the dense forest of high rise buildings.

But experiencing the Twin Towers in Augmented Reality was truly impressive and even an emotional experience. I tweeted the screenshots and received some emotional reactions. Some guy asked me what I was doing and I gave him my phone - He was amazed. We’ll put up a video soon.

Layar event
The Layar event on Tuesday evening was a great success. We hoped to have a dedicated audience of (potential) Layar creators rather than big audience of only vaguely interested people and got everything we wanted. People drove and flew in from as far as Philadelphia, Connecticut and even Seattle only to come and see us.

I showed some of the coolest Layar cases and gave a general introduction to the platform, Matt shared the latest usage statistics and the different platforms and handsets to which Layar is being distributed. Maurice provided background info on how Layar facilitates content creation and Marc gave a step by step explanation of the technical side of Layar and how you can even create layers if you can’t code using Hoppala Augmentation. Presentations will soon be online (as soon as we have decent wifi).

The audience was very active in terms of questions and sharing ideas. Some already had experience building layers or other AR experiences, others were from an ad agency interested in adding Layar to their portfolio and some even planning to set up an agency focusing also on Layar development and there were some influential AR bloggers in the audience such as Chris Grayson and Tish Shute.

I interviewed some of them on background and their AR dream - will post these videos with interesting thoughts when I’m back in the Netherlands.

Fire Fighters
The event took place in the New York Fire Museum. This was arranged by Richard Jansen, a Dutch fire fighter who sees huge potential in using Layar to better understand the context when there’s a fire or rescue operation. When there’s 8 minutes to judge, you want to have a good understanding of the building you’re about to enter, hazardous materials, explosives, water depth etc. Here’s a presentation he made on how he believes Layar can help in bringing all this information into the hands of the fire fighters, without having to invest in expensive hardware solutions.

Over the weekend, Richard also created a 9/11 fire fighter memorial layer. Screenshots soon to online.

New members of the LPN

We had great one on one meetings with agencies and brands in NYC. We signed up one new member of the Layar Partner Network. A huge media agency and publisher working on a fantastic Layar campaign for a major global brand . The campaign will start next week so we’ll tell you more when it’s live.

All in all a very fruitful first short visit to New York. A next time, I would like to do a ‘10 agencies in 3 days’ round, so if you’re an (advertising or web development) agency in New York and interested to see me personally, please let me know.

Next stop: SFO

I’m writing this article on board of the flight to San Francisco, where we will have more interesting meetings as well as another Layar event, Thursday the 12th, 6PM at the Adaptive Path offices! Please join us - here’s more info and where you can RSVP



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A good visit to London: Facebook Event and Meffys

Claire Boonstra June 24, 2010

Mark Zuckerberg and ClaireLast Monday June 21st I celebrated the official start of the summer with a visit to London, to attend the Facebook Developer Garage London (FDGL; #fdgl on Twitter) and the Meffys Award dinner and gala.

The FDGL was a great event, organized by the local London Facebook developer community, together with Christian Hernandez (@christianhern) from the Facebook EMEA and Developer team. Facebook is now focusing much more on areas outside of the US, so they decided to send an executive team over to attend this event including Joanna Shields, Mike Vernal, Ethan Beard and Mark Zuckerberg himself! The atmosphere was great and I got to meet many great companies and developers - and managed to talk with “Zuck” for a while about Layar. He was impressed by what we achieved in only one year!

We are thinking about how we can integrate Facebook and Layar in the best possible way - so that Layar users can share their activity on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg indicated they are finishing designing their geo-location application and hope to offer it soon. Which is of course possibly also very exciting for Layar. Tweets about the event can be found here.

After the Facebook event I went to the Meffys Award dinner. The Meffys are the ‘Oscars’ of the mobile entertainment industry - awarded by the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF). This was a gala dinner - so unlike most geeky & startup events, people were wearing suits, tuxedo’s and cocktail dresses, and the dinner was held in a ballroom with chandeliers. Nice!

During the ceremony, 18 Meffys were awarded in categories such as ‘Best Music Service’, ‘Best Game’ and ‘Best Ad Campaign’. And guess what: Layar won the Meffy for ‘Technology Innovation’! This is a fantastic reward for Layar - showing that we have passed the ‘promising startup’ stage to become a mature business.

Rimma Perelmuter, MEF’s Executive Director, said “Congratulations to Layar on pioneering the field of augmented reality on mobile, which looks set to become a mass-market phenomenon.” Great, right?

The Meffys were by the way not the only award we received last week. Marc Rene Gardeya from Hoppala received the Autovision Innovation Award on behalf of Layar on June 16th. More information can be found on his blog.

Thanks all for a great event and great prizes,



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Some Nice Photography from the Layar Anniversary Event

Maarten Lens-FitzGerald June 23, 2010


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Event Video 5: Lets Talk Product – Usage, Floaticons and Kooaba

Maarten Lens-FitzGerald June 22, 2010

This is the last video of Layar’s one year anniversary event. CEO Raimo van der Klein talks product. He discusses the latest usage statistics, introduces the latest addition to the Layar experience called Floaticons and announces the partnership with Kooaba.

See the whole news round-up from the anniversary event here.

Layar’s usage shows growth and maturity with 700K active users
In the last 6 months 1.6 million people used Layar at least once. The active user base amounts to 716.000 people who used Layar in the past 30 days. The Layar Reality Browser is moving from a cool application to show friends to an application that is a service of value in daily life.

More layers are being discovered with the content discovery mechanism called Stream. The addition of Stream to the Layar Reality Browser resulted in 40% of the users opening at least 3 layers, compared to 23% in previous versions.

Graph: Average amount of Layers opened by users

Layar adds AR messaging with cool 3D Floaticons
Today we announced that our users will be able to express themselves by placing objects in the mass medium of Augmented Reality. The first “species” of objects that come alive in Layar are animated 3D objects called Floaticons. Users express themselves and leave messages using Floaticons.

There are several series, such as Floatos Locos, Robots 3000, Classic Monsters, Sparkle & Shine and a special World Cup series representing all participating countries. Hundreds of these Floaticons will be made available for all types of messages.

To ensure that only relevant messages remain visible over time, we gave each Floaticon a limited lifespan, indicated as “health”. The health of a Floaticon can be prolonged by feeding it a cookie.

Floaticons are Layar’s first step into the business of Digital Goods. Next week we will make a beta client available to our developers. We expect to launch Floaticons to the public in July.

Introducing Layar Floaticons

Messaging with Layar Floaticons

Layar Floaticon Series

Kooaba announced as partner in Image Recognition
Image Recognition is a key part of the Augmented Reality roadmap. Layar will integrate the world of geo-located AR and image recognition into one compelling service.

Kooaba, a leading company in visual search, based in Zurich, Switzerland, will provide the technology. This capabitity opens up a world of new possibilities, including indoor usage and launching AR from a billboard, video or product. Expected launch is scheduled for Q4 2010.

Announcement video Kooaba


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Event Video 4: The Community Creating the New Medium

Maarten Lens-FitzGerald June 22, 2010

Video of the presentation by Claire Boonstra, co-founder & head of content & community, at the Layar NEXT Event, June 18th 2010. She talks about the milestones the Layar community has reached and the news big content partners like National Geographic and Quiznos.

Layer Partner Network member TAB World Media also took the stage as well as DnL Productions to talk about their successful business using Layar.

Layar Platform grows to 1.000 layers published, covering every country in the world
This week Layar reached three major milestones: 1.000 layers published, 3.000 layers in testing and 4.000 active developers. The platform growth has now accelerated to over 20% per month. These layers bring augmented content to every country in the world.

The Layar Partner Network, consisting of companies fully dedicated to developing layers, has grown to 20 members across the globe. The newest member, Dongyub Lee of DnL Productions in South-Korea explained on stage why his company chose to be fully committed to Layar with 4 dedicated developers and 3D artists.

The latest brand to announce their commitment to use Layar’s AR is National Geographic. At the event, Katie Juhl, Manager of Mobile at National Geographic shared how they will use Layar to provide better learning and travel experiences for their audience.

National Geographic on Layar with the Washington Monument

Katie Juhl, Manager of Mobile at National Geographic on using Layar to provide better learning experiences


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