'Augmented reality' - it's a horrible phrase but one you are going to hear more and more over the next year. Thankfully it offers tangible benefits like this...
Little known company SPRXmobile has just announced 'Layar': the 'world's first mobile Augmented Reality browser' and to get the very easiest explanation of what that means I'd suggest you click on the video demonstration below then come back to me.
...back? Ok, it is pretty cool is it not? Essentially then what Augmented Reality amounts to is the display of real time digital information on top of - in this case - a camera screen on a mobile phone. It could also work with maps, a browser (via GPS), third party handset applications etc.
The video shows Layar being demonstrated on Android and it works it via a combination of the camera, GPS and - fundamentally here - a digital compass (both found in the G1 and Magic and coming to the iPhone 3G S). The digital information displayed comes from SPRXmobile partners which include the likes of real estate agents, restaurant and cafe guides, healthcare providers, banks and more. Obviously the speed of an individual's data connection at the time of using Layar will have a large impact on how quickly this information can be brought up.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect to Layar is that it is ready now. The launch will initially take place in Holland with partners: ING (ATMs), Funda (houses for sale), Hyves (social network hot spots) Tempo-team (jobs) and Zekur.nl (healthcare providers). Layar will then launch in each country with local content providers and the UK, Germany and US are targeted for launch before the end of the year.
Layar be downloadable from Android Market and SPRXmobile stresses that "other handsets and operating systems are in development with a prime focus on the iPhone 3G S".
Yep, it may sound silly a silly phrase but Augmented Reality is something we could definitely get used to...