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Creator Used to Enhance LBC’s Gazettes Newspapers

Chris Cameron July 30, 2012

Gazettes Newspapers, a group of newspapers in Long Beach, California, has discovered the Layar Creator, augmenting the front pages of its sports sections with bonus videos for readers.

Sports editors Mike Guardabascio and J.J. Fiddler recorded the video embedded above that explains how readers can use their smartphone to access the bonus content with Layar. Here’s a excerpt from an article about the project that appeared in the Gazettes.

Gazette Publisher Simon Grieve said that as digital consumption continues to grow, the Gazette is dedicated to embracing the advancements of a tech-hungry world, and finding ways to integrate familiar and trusted forms of news media with these new developments. […]

“Newspaper pages can only hold so much,” Grieve said, “but the opportunity to have an array of digital content hiding just beneath the surface, ready to be brought to life with a simple scan from a cell phone, opens a lot of exciting doors for both newspapers and their readers.”

Mike Guardabascio, co-sports editor at the Gazettes, shared his excitement about the new technology:

“When (co-sports editor) JJ Fiddler and I first got to the Gazettes, we joked about how great it would be to put our video highlights in the newspaper, should that technology ever exist.” Guardabascio recalled. “We weren’t serious, but now someone has come along and invented a way to do just that.”

We love that pioneering journalists have started using the Creator to enhance the static print pages of their newspapers. This project is a prime example of how any publication, big or small, can quickly begin creating interactive print all by themselves with the Layar Creator.

Gazettes also plans to continue using the Creator with it’s coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.


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How to Create Effective Campaigns with Layar Creator

Chris Cameron July 27, 2012

A few weeks ago we asked for feedback in our Creator Survey. We received lots of great feedback, but what we heard the most was a need for more help with creating engaging campaigns and attracting users to them.

We heard loud and clear, so here are a few resources that will help with just that.

Presentation: Creating Effective Campaigns
We’ve created a very helpful presentation (embedded above) that provides a lot of great tips for creating an effective campaign with the Layar Creator. You can view it on Slideshare or download it as either a PDF or a Keynote file. In it you will find:

New Instructions Downloads
We’ve noticed that the most successful Creator campaigns include clear instructions and calls-to-action for readers. To make this easy for you to implement, we’ve created some handy images and icons that you can use with your campaigns. The downloads available include:

  • The Layar logo - Use this with some action text (like in the images above) to attract readers to your content.
  • Instructions - Use this imagery (like the one shown below) to show readers how to download and use Layar with your publication. Available in Dutch and English.
  • Instruction Copy - The text from the instructions imagery if you wish to use it on your own.
  • Logo & Instructions Pack - Download all of the above, and more, in one easy pack!

Video Tutorials
And finally, we’ve continued to create more helpful video tutorials for quick and easy glimpses into using the Creator. So check out the videos below to learn how to use AR video in your campaigns, and a step-by-step guide to exploring and understanding campaign statistics!

How else can we help you? If you have requests, send them to!


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Layar Creator Brings Interactivity to Nature

Chris Cameron July 25, 2012

While we love to focus on Interactive Print and how it can enhance the reading experience of magazines, newspapers and other printed materials, people are currently using the Layar Creator to enhance all sorts of things. Even nature.

If you’ve ever been to a national park or any other outdoor nature spot, you probably remember the information panels most locations display to provide information to readers. They’re found everywhere, even at monuments and other tourist attractions. But what if those static panels could come to life with digital content?

Take, for example, the Dutch Natuurmonumenten (Nature Reserves) in Texel. The info panels at the reserves have been augmented using the Creator to provide a guided video tour of the scenery.

Park ranger Eckard Boot hosts the videos from the very spot where the panels stand, providing answers to popular questions and details about the species of animals and plants in the various areas. So far 11 panels have been enhanced with Eckard’s videos, and they even include “View with Layar” stickers on them to let people know they can be scanned!

Check out the example video below.

The most interesting thing about the Natuurmonumenten’s efforts to enhance their panels is that they did it all by themselves, including the stickers. The Layar Creator allowed them to upload photos of the panels and enhance them with links, social media buttons and, of course, Eckard’s video tours.

We love to see individuals taking the initiative and creating awesome new content with the Layar Creator. This just goes to show that there is no end to the number of ways in which the Layar Creator can be used.


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Reactions from Our Interactive Print Seminar

Chris Cameron July 24, 2012

Not long ago we hosted the “Activeer Print” (Activate Print) seminar here in Amsterdam. We hosted over 90 attendees from the publishing and media industry, and after the event, we wanted to hear what they thought.

Watch the video above to see what attendees thought of interactive print and of the Layar Creator!


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A Preview of the Layar Roadmap for This Summer

Dirk Groten July 20, 2012

The following is a blog post from Layar’s Dirk Groten.

Layar has had an exciting year since the introduction of Layar Vision last summer. Since then, we’ve made quite a few changes to our app and to the publishing platform. We changed the user interface to focus more on Layar Vision in 6.1 and added AR video in 6.2. We also introduced the Layar Creator, an easy tool to create content for Layar Vision, and we introduced a new app for user-generated AR, Stiktu

We haven’t always announced these changes much in advance, leaving our content creators in the dark about our future plans and commitments to them. Let me change this and give you a heads-up about what you can expect from us in the coming months.

Layar 7.0

The next version of the Layar app, Layar 7.0, will solve a number of issues our users are currently having:

  • By separating Vision from Geo (location-based with POIs) layers we can switch off a few sensors when using vision AR. That way you won’t be bothered anymore by requests to switch on your GPS or to wave your phone in a figure-eight pattern due to compass interference when just viewing augmented content on top of printed materials.
  • We’ll make it clearer to users that there are two sides to our app: Vision and Geo. We’ll open up in Vision (scan) mode like in Layar 6.2 but it will be clearer how to find the Geo layers. And we’re adding instructions to explain these two modes.
  • We’re changing the UI drastically on Android to comply better to the Ice Cream Sandwich UI guidelines (Android 4.x), allowing the app to behave more like a native Android app.
  • There are two API changes in Layar 7.0: In the getPOI request you’ll receive all images that were recognized instead of just one, and you can specify actions to share content specifically on Facebook or Twitter.

Let me emphasize that we are committed to continue supporting Geo layers in Layar. We strongly believe that geo-location and location-based content have an important role to play in AR now and in the future.

We will continue adding features for layer developers, both for Geo and Vision AR. When we introduced AR video in Layar 6.2, it was supported for both Vision as well as for Geo layers.

We decided to stop supporting a mix of Vision and Geo in one layer due to the confusing message to end users who didn’t understand what to do. It is still possible to link from vision to geo and vice versa by using the layar:// URL scheme (intent) if you still need to mix the two experiences.

Layar 7.0 is scheduled for release in early August.

Support for HTML Augments in Layar 7.1

So after Layar 7.0, what’s next? HTML content! Our next release after Layar 7.0 will introduce support for HTML augments. You’ll be able to create dynamic AR content by using content-type text/html for your AR objects.

This enables a whole bunch of new experiences, where the content viewed in AR is dynamic because it’s directly being fetched from the web. Let me list a couple of features we’ll support in HTML objects:

  • WebKit support of HTML, CSS and Javascript. Since we’re using WebKit to render the content, a large part of what you can do in the mobile browser (Safari and Chrome) can also be done in AR. 
  • You’ll be able to set the CSS pixel width and height of the HTML augment. The actual size of the augment in AR will be based on the existing ‘size’ parameter, like for images. 
  • You’ll have the choice to enable or disable direct user interaction with the HTML content. When enabled, the content will behave like in a normal browser. For example, if you make a poll the user can click ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in AR and directly see the result in AR. When disabled, user clicks are passed to the Layar app and the usual POI actions can be triggered. For example, you can display an up-to-date live score for a tennis match that shows a mobile page in full screen with more information when the user clicks on it.

And again this applies to both Vision and Geo layers. Layar 7.1 is scheduled for release in October. 

Layar Creator

Of course we are committed to continuously improve the Layar Creator and add features that make it even easier to publish AR on print.

  • We will make it easier to add video augments to your print. Due to some technical limitations there are currently a couple of different ways to add video. We’ll simplify the flow so you don’t have to worry about the technology anymore.
  • We’ll add more standard buttons. The email button, for example, was meant to let users share something via email, but didn’t allow you to use it for contacting you (pre-filling the recipient email address).
  • Support for HTML in Layar means we can also start adding more dynamic types of buttons in the Layar Creator. 
  • And we’re working on a way for publishers to claim exclusivity on their pages, so that you can be assured no one else can ‘hijack’ your page. This assumes you’re the exclusive copyright owner of all artwork on the page of course.

Features in the Layar Creator will be rolled out regularly in small updates, watch our Layar Creator newsletter to be informed about the dates.

So that’s what we’ve got planned for the rest of the summer. We’re excited to keep making progress and hope you’ll join us. If you’d like to provide feedback, please visit our contact form!


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