Dec 3rd, 2009

A few weeks ago we told you that Layar was working on a 3D update that they hoped would take their Augmented Reality experience to new heights. Well… Layar 3.0 has launched on Android Market and as far as I can tell it is very cool but not yet all that practical/useful.

The company wrote a blog post explaining the power of Layar 3.0 and provided five real-world examples of how it can be used (in a fake world):

Architectural Showcase
A building in Rotterdam will be completed in 2014 but you can already visit the site and take a tour of the building using Layar’s new AR browser.
building-tour

Storytelling/Tourism
Want to take a guided tour? Exploring the streets of London you may be guided from spot to spot with 3D images overlayed in Layar to help you get the full effect of your surroundings. For example, passing Abbey Road you might see this:
abbey-road

They also suggest Layar would be great for showing surroundings as if you were there at a different period in time. Or how about art/messages/fun objects in random layers like an alien spaceship hovering over the city or airplanes/blimps flying by:

alien-layer

They also mention B2B applications and uses.

The above seems VERY cool. Personally I really like the potential that guided tours could have in Layar. But one thing I consider a problem with Layar is the word “potential”. It has a TON of potential but unless developers make Layers for it and unless users are using it there is not enough substance for growth. With more developers come more features and more users. But you need users to attract developers in the first place. I guess I would call it the critical mass paradox. Sometimes it’s hard to determine why something did or didn’t catch on.

In this case I’m rooting for Layar and I hope it catches on but I probably won’t personally use it. And actually, for the time being, I CAN’T use it because it’s only available for devices with Android 1.5 and 1.6:

Layar v3.0 can now be downloaded free of charge from the Android Market and is available for all Android 1.5 and 1.6 devices. We will release a compatible version for the Droid as soon as possible. We have almost finished testing for Android 2.0. A version for the iPhone 3GS is to follow after Apples approval.

Note that an iPhone version is coming after Apple’s approval, but you can already use Layar to experience what the iPhone version will be like when Apple accepts the application in 2017. Use the Layer called “Horse Crap”.