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Blog: layar-creation-tools

Layar Creation Tools: Series Wrap-Up

Chris Cameron December 20, 2010

Over the last several weeks here on the Layar blog, we profiled three services for generating Layar content, which we call Layar Creation Tools (or LCTs). While other services exist or are in development, we chose to focus on these three - Skaloop, Hoppala Augmentation and BuildAR - because of their availability and accessibility to users of all skill levels.

Each LCT is unique and has its benefits to different users, so we decided to make a matrix that shows which features are available on each LCT. As you can see, Hoppala includes most of the features listed, such as layer actions, 3D objects and custom interaction widgets. Skaloop and BuildAR are simpler LCTs than Hoppala in terms of functionality, but their interface and design is a bit more digestible for more casual users.

If you are interested at all in creating Augmented Reality content on Layar, have a look at the matrix below and see which LCT might be right for you.

As for the services that are in development, keep an eye out for a pair of LCTs which are gearing up to open to public use: VISAR and Poiz. VISAR is a robust engine for creating layers and will likely be comparable to Hoppala in terms of functionality. Poiz is a bit simpler, but seems more detailed than Skaloop or BuildAR with features like the ability to preview the appearance of your layer. Both of these tools are still in the testing phase, but it’s likely that they will be available for public use early next year.

Note: Since this blog was posted, buidAR has since updated its platform significantly, including support for animation, 3D objects and more.


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Layar Creation Tools: buildAR

Chris Cameron November 26, 2010

The next subject to be placed under our Layar Creation Tools microscope is buildAR, a web-app built by Australia’s MOB Labs. Much like the previously reviewed Skaloop, buildAR is a simple web-based interface for adding POIs to a map which can be viewed using Layar.

There are two different account types: personal and business. At the moment, both account types have identical functionality, but buildAR will eventually help business account holders launch their very own layer. Using either account allows you to add POIs to a publicly viewable layer. You can specify certain POIs to be private, making them viewable only to you when you login to buildAR from within Layar.

To start adding POIs, simply create either a personal or business account, which are both free to try. After logging in with your account, navigate to a location on the map, or search for a location to go there instantly. To add a POI, just click on the map where you want it to be placed. You can then add a name, a description and some links to associate with the POI. Then select whether to make the POI public or private, and you’re done!

To view POIs in Augmented Reality, simply boot up Layar on your iPhone or Android device and search for the buildAR layer. When the layer loads, there will be automatically placed POIs near you that will allow you to log in to your buildAR account. After you log in, any private POIs will become visible. To get the best view, we recommend switching to “Birdseye” mode to see over nearby POIs.

The features of buildAR are still very basic and do not contain all of the possible functionality of the Layar platform. Adding 3D objects, custom icons or advanced actions are not yet supported. Additionally, it would be nice to have the option to hide public POIs when viewing private POIs within Layar, as the screen can become cluttered, making it hard to find your personal spots.

Despite all this, the basic function of adding POIs is very easy and fast and requires very little technical skill to complete. If you want to quickly and easily view your very own POIs, perhaps buildAR is the right Layar Creation Tool for you!

Note: Since this blog was posted, buidAR has since updated its platform significantly, including support for animation, 3D objects and more.


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Layar Creation Tools: Hoppala Augmentation

Chris Cameron November 19, 2010

Continuing our series on Layar Creation Tools, we turn to Hoppala Augmentation, a tool that allows non-techies to edit and publish their very own layers on the Layar Reality Browser.

Hoppala is a very powerful “CMS” for creating content on Layar. Instead of playing around within pre-created layers, Hoppala actually helps you through the process of creating a developer account with Layar to manager your own layers. Our very own Ivo van Barneveld took a closer look at Hoppala, and here’s what he had to say…

Hands-On with Hoppala

It’s easy to get started with Hoppala Augmentation. On the Hoppala website there is a video that explains how to create a layer in 4 steps, it’s really helpful and shows clearly how to get started. Unfortunately, there is no other information (documentation, tutorials, etc) available other than this video.

Registration is simple. Once you have logged in, you can easily add your own layers so you can publish your own content in your own layer.

Editing a layer is also simple. By clicking a layer, you open up a page that allows you to drop POIs (or “augments” in Hoppala’s terminology) on a map. You can also enter an address to navigate to a specific location. A disadvantage is that you need to add every POI manually in this way; there is no option to upload a database of POIs.

Once you have placed your POI, you can edit it by clicking on it. A box with 5 tabs appears where you can set the details for the POI. All the attributes that Layar supports seem to be available through Hoppala: 2D or 3D layers, customized actions, customized icons for POIs etc. For the inexperienced user seeing these attrributes might be overwhelming.

It’s good to know that you only have to set a few (as shown in the video) for the POI to show up in your layer. The more advanced user will like the possibility to tweak his/her POIs. There is no further explanation about the attributes, so Hoppala does presume some prior knowledge of Layar. A suggestion for improvement would be to distinguish required and optional fields.

Publishing the POIs is straightforward. Once you have published your layer through Layar’s publishing environment, every POI that you have added through Hoppala will immediately show up in the layer.

To conclude, Hoppala is a very user-friendly tool to create a layer, with a good video tutorial on how to get started. Many options are available for the more advanced user, and the less advanced user will still be able to publish his/her POIs.


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Using Layar to Peer Into the Past

Chris Cameron November 17, 2010

As fans of history, we here at Layar see Augmented Reality as an amazing tool for learning more about the past. Already, layers like the Berlin Wall layer allow people to see history come alive through 3D models.

Another fascinating example of this type of Augmented Reality is in the works as part of a collaboration between Lightning Laboratories’ Gene Becker and Stanford University Knight Fellow Adriano Farano. Becker, who is focused on experience design for blending physical and digital storytelling, and Farano, who is looking to find ways to use AR in journalism, have been experimenting with historical photographs in Layar and Hoppala, a tool for creating Layar content.

By making historical photographs viewable as objects within Layar at the locations where they were taken, viewers can achieve a better grasp on history - and the early tests by Becker and Farano look very intriguing.

The pair chose to use historical photos of Stanford as their first test images - specifically those from before a massive earthquake in 1906. Several parts of the old campus were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, and the evidence of missing architecture comes alive through Augmented Reality.

In the example above, the square structure on the right of the picture is actually the base of the right leg of the arch in the old photograph. Memorial Arch, as it was known, had to be demolished due to damage it received during the earthquake. In another example, a present-day statue is revealed to be the same as one which plunged through a sidewalk after being knocked from its perch during the quake.

The great thing about historical photographs is that there are millions of them in libraries and archives around the world, and dropping them into Layar is not terribly difficult. With Layar Creation Tools like Hoppala (which we will be profiling later this week), this process is even easier. We are excited to see what else Becker and Farano can create with further experiments!


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Layar Creation Tools: Skaloop

Chris Cameron November 12, 2010

As we mentioned last week, November is the month of LCTs (Layar Creation Tools) and how better kick off the series than with a newcomer to the market of tools: Skaloop.

Skaloop is a lovely web interface designed by Spanish developers Signo. The service allows anyone to quickly add points-of-interest (POIs) to a map with metadata like names, photos, tags, categories, descriptions, links, comments and even ratings with thumbs up and down. The interface is very user friendly as it is built on top of a full-screen Google Map.

Enrollment for users is not currently open on the website, but to create an account you can request one at One you have an account, logging in allows you to create public and private POIs, and save curated lists of these spots. You can also comment and submit correction for public POIs submitted by others. If you create a private POI, only you will be able to view it on Skaloop.

To view POIs in AR view, simply launch the Layar Reality Browser and search for the “Skaloop” layer. The layer will find public POIs in your area, and if you log in with your credentials within the layer your private POIs become viewable. Clicking on a POI pulls up a menu where you can get directions to the spot, view the website linked with the POI, and view additional information like the description, photo, tags and comments. You cannot, however, comment on or rate the POI from within Layar.

Skaloop is very basic and very simple, and makes it very easy for the less tech-savvy user to get POIs online and in Layar. That said, there are many features some might be missing in Skaloop. There are no 3D objects, no custom interaction widgets, and no personal layers - but entry-level AR users may not feel they need some of these more advanced functions.

There are a few bugs with Skaloop, mainly with the uploading and viewing of images, but it does not take away from the usefulness of the tool. In the near future, Skaloop hopes to allow users to upload not only multiple images per POI, but also other media like video and audio.

Want a clean, simple interface to upload your favorite local spots and view them instantly in AR? Skaloop may be the LCT you’ve been looking for! To see it in action, check out this video.


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