June 16, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
Android has an augmented reality. I had no idea exactly what that meant today, but Layar, “the first mobile Augmented Reality browser,” did a good job of drawing me in to find out.
Layar adds real-time information about locations and points of interest on a user’s phone. Combining Android’s camera, GPS, and compass functions, it automatically detects what direction someone is facing and provides an alternate layer of information about his or her surroundings. Imagine you’re walking down the street and spot a sale sign in a neighborhood you like. Layar will display the asking price (if listed), Realtor contact info, and other homes in the area that are up for sale, including distance.
Bars, clubs, jobs, healthcare providers, and ATM machines are also available in Layar, which is targeted currently for the Netherlands. Dutch Android fans will be the first to get this app, which partners with ING, Funda, Hyves, Tempo-team, and Zekur.nl for information supplied in each layer.
The approach used in Layar is a twist on what we’ve already seen with location/points of interest apps like NRU, Google Places, and Where. It will be interesting to see how well this works once Layar hits other parts of the world. SPRXmobile is working on adding new layers of content and releasing Layar in new markets. Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States are next on tap to receive the app once work with local partners is completed.