Back in April, I posted an item called “Meatspace Hyperlinks.” The idea (which I totally pilfered from ReadWriteWeb) was that users could aim their cell cameras at statues, buildings, whatever in the real world, and see information about the item pop up on their handset screens. The guys at the MOBVIS project in Europe already has technology capable of doing this.
Well, they just got seriously lapped.
Layar is now available worldwide for Android, and it works much the same way. Users point the device at things in the real world, and the screen shows the image with an overlay (or “layar”) of location-based info. See a bar code in the Mazda ad and want to know where the nearest dealership is? What about info on stuff you see on the street? Well, now there’s an app (I mean layar) for that. Just point your phone at it, and you’ve got info.
Call it an augmented reality browser or consider it a platform — either way, content providers are lining up to add their own overlays. And the list so far is already impressive: Flickr, Wikipedia, Yelp, Google local search, Qype, Brightkite, and Twitter, among others.
Check out the vid of the Brightkite integration in action:
Is it a novelty app or an indispensable tool? Hard to say. I almost never have the urge to buy a car on impulse, but who cares. I’d play with this constantly, moving the camera around to bring new icons and info on the screen. The only question is whether it would drain the battery dry in just 5 minutes or 10. Oh, but I’d love to find out.
Well, that’s too bad for me. I’m on an iPhone, and this is only available for Android — at least for now. The company plans to offer a version for the 3G S next year.
So iPhone users need to be patient. Android users, however, only need to tap the Android Market.