I remember when I first saw the Verizon Wireless commercial featuring the Layar Reality Browser. It looked like something out of a science fiction movie. When my student web coordinator came in to the office with her iPhone, I asked her if she had ever heard of "Layar." She had not heard of it so we downloaded it from the App Store. I was amazed at how the app used the phone's camera, GPS and Internet access to create a virtual layer of information over the image being displayed by the phone. It was my first experience with an augmented reality application.
If you have either an iPhone or an Android-based phone, I would encourage you to download and try the Layar app. The application uses your phone's GPS to present geo-specific waypoints overlaid over the real-time images being presented by your smartphone's camera. Data is fed in real time using either Wifi or cell-based internet access. It's phenomenal technology. Using the "Eat" layer, I had a 360 degree augmented reality look at the location of several restaurants near my office. Months later, I would use Layar to find a place to eat while visiting Boston.
A few universities have started using Layar to provide campus-specific augmented reality maps:
- University of Wisconsin - Madison
- West Virginia University
- Arizona State University
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- Purdue University
New content layers can easily be created and shared. New student orientation programs, campus auxiliary services, first year experience courses, and campus tours could all benefit from using custom layers. I predict that a lot more schools will actively engage in augmented reality application development in the near future.
How would you use Layar on your campus?
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