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Layar’s News Round-up from its Anniversary Event

Maarten Lens-FitzGerald June 18, 2010

We proudly celebrated Layar’s first anniversary with fans, developers, publishers and partners in Amsterdam. We shared insights, facts, distribution agreement news, content announcements and API updates. Major announcements included a strategic partnership with Kooaba for image recognition, and the introduction of AR messaging with Floaticons. To top it off the new Layar video was premiered.

Layar founders, Raimo van der Klein, Claire Boonstra and Maarten Lens-FitzGerald were joined on stage by CTO Dirk Groten and head of customer development, Matt Miesnieks. This post will detail all announcements and news from todays event.

>> Presentation slides: “The Who and the What”, Maarten Lens-FitzGerald, General Manager

Layar signs deals to be distributed on 1 in 3 new AR capable smartphones worldwide
Layar has captured the imagination of Smartphone manufacturers and carriers who are attracted to the Layar experience, which demonstrates to customers the full capabilities of modern smartphones. We have been thrilled at the pre-load commitments and above the line marketing investment we are receiving from our partners.

With pride Layar announced that LG, the worlds #3 mobile phone manufacturer will pre-load Layar on new Android devices. In addition, Samsung expanded the existing relationship with support for Layar on the Bada platform. A Tier 1 Chinese handset manufacturer has also signed a global distribution deal to pre-load Layar, along with TCT Mobile (Alcatel). These four partnerships ensure Layar will be pre-loaded on 1 in 3 new AR capable smartphones sold worldwide this year, and more global distribution partnerships will be announced in the coming months.

Verizon, Sprint and Samsung have all invested significantly in producing amazing campaigns to promote Layar. Highlights are the TV commercials aired during prime-time shows such as Oprah and the NBA Finals. Our partners have experienced wildly successful sales campaigns themselves while driving record numbers of active users to Layar.

Our efforts to build the largest audience for publishers of engaging AR experiences are succeeding with tens of millions of users expected on the Layar platform during 2010.

>> Samsung endorsement video
>> Image: Layar installed on 1 in 3 new AR capable smartphones
>> Presentation slides: “The Attraction of the Experience”, Matt Miesnieks, Distribution

New platform features to enable more Immersive AR
Since version 3.0, Layar has been offering content providers a wealth of features to create immersive AR experiences. Publishers can enrich the experience with audio, use auto-triggers to let things happen when users reach certain points and personalize the experience by letting users log into their service enabling for instance check-in services. But its not enough.

Many developers have requested many features. One main request is more advanced control of the AR view. To control what’s happening in the browser and therefore the user’s experience. Layar is now taking the API one step further to fulfill this request and many other feature requests. We are adding 5 big features to the API:

  • Call REST webservices directly from an object in AR. This allows the user to interact with what they’re seeing in AR without the need for a web page obscuring the AR view.

  • Flexible refresh rate. This enables an AR experience with frequently moving objects, like other players in a massive AR game

  • Actions on the entire AR view. This makes it possible for users to actively participate in the layer at their current location. E.g. post a review or update your location.

  • Specify the amount of overlay information that is displayed when an object becomes the focus point. This will make for a less cluttered AR view and should be particularly useful for immersive games and art experiences.

  • And finally: Animations! Objects can contain texture animations and can be programmed to make looped in-place animations. The Layar World comes alive!

From today the documentation for the new API features are available. Launch will be in summer.

>> Presentation slides: “Immersive AR using Layar’s API”, Dirk Groten, CTO
>> The effect of the Verizon Layar Ad during the Lakers - Celtics game

Layar Platform grows to 1.000 layers published, covering every country in the world
This week Layar reached three major milestones: 1.000 layers published, 3.000 layers in testing and 4.000 active developers. The platform growth has now accelerated to over 20% per month. These layers bring augmented content to every country in the world.

The Layar Partner Network, consisting of companies fully dedicated to developing layers, has grown to 20 members across the globe. The newest member, Dongyub Lee of DnL Productions in South-Korea explained on stage why his company chose to be fully committed to Layar with 4 dedicated developers and 3D artists.

The latest brand to announce their commitment to use Layar’s AR is National Geographic. At the event, Katie Juhl, Manager of Mobile at National Geographic shared how they will use Layar to provide better learning and travel experiences for their audience.

>> Graph of Layar content growth
>> National Geographic Demo Screen on Layar
>> Video: Katie Juhl, Manager of Mobile at National Geographic announces that National Geographic together with National Geographic Traveler will create mobile augmented reality experiences on the Layar platform.
>> Presentation slides: “The Community Creating the New Medium”, Claire Boonstra, Head of Content and Community

Layar’s usage shows growth and maturity with 700K active users
In the last 6 months 1.6 million people used Layar at least once. The active user base amounts to 716.000 people who used Layar in the past 30 days. The Layar Reality Browser is moving from a cool application to show friends to an application that is a service of value in daily life.

More layers are being discovered with the content discovery mechanism called Stream. The addition of Stream to the Layar Reality Browser resulted in 40% of the users opening at least 3 layers, compared to 23% in previous versions.

>> Graph: Average amount of Layers opened by users

Layar adds AR messaging with cool 3D Floaticons
Today we announced that our users will be able to express themselves by placing objects in the mass medium of Augmented Reality. The first “species” of objects that come alive in Layar are animated 3D objects called Floaticons. Users express themselves and leave messages using Floaticons.

There are several series, such as Floatos Locos, Robots 3000, Classic Monsters, Sparkle & Shine and a special World Cup series representing all participating countries. Hundreds of these Floaticons will be made available for all types of messages.

To ensure that only relevant messages remain visible over time, we gave each Floaticon a limited lifespan, indicated as “health”. The health of a Floaticon can be prolonged by feeding it a cookie.

Floaticons are Layar’s first step into the business of Digital Goods. Next week we will make a beta client available to our developers. We expect to launch Floaticons to the public in July.

>> Introducing Layar Floaticons
>> Messaging with Layar Floaticons
>> Layar Floaticon Series
>> Presentation slides: “Let’s talk Product
”, Raimo van der Klein, CEO

Kooaba announced as partner in Image Recognition
Image Recognition is a key part of the Augmented Reality roadmap. Layar will integrate the world of geo-located AR and image recognition into one compelling service.

Kooaba, a leading company in visual search, based in Zurich, Switzerland, will provide the technology. This capabitity opens up a world of new possibilities, including indoor usage and launching AR from a billboard, video or product. Expected launch is scheduled for Q4 2010.

>> Announcement video Kooaba

In closing
It’s been a great year for Layar. Now at 36 employees and ready for further growth. It gives much joy to see an idea take off at such speed, in an unimaginably large market opportunity and see so many people, organizations and companies embrace what Layar does and has to offer. Now, and in the future.

They support us in the vision that Augmented Reality is emerging as a new Mass Medium which all can use, enjoy and experience.

Augmented Reality is the first medium to use all capabilities of the mobile phone and will be a massive market. We are thankful to be part of this, we are still at the beginning and eager to add more to the new mass medium.

Layar: see the world!


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