Home Layar Celebrates 1st Birthday With New Features and Partnerships

Layar Celebrates 1st Birthday With New Features and Partnerships

Today in Amsterdam, popular augmented reality (AR) mobile browser maker Layar is celebrating the one year anniversary of its launch with an event called NEXT. In the company’s brief lifetime, it has attracted millions of users to the Layar mobile application on Android and iPhone devices with its impressive catalog of layers. Today, the company made several announcements including additional international pre-load deals with handset manufacturers, new features for its browser, and partnerships with major brands.

Making the biggest splash today at NEXT was a pair of announcements saved for the end of the opening keynotes by the Layar founders. CEO Raimo van der Klein announced that Layar will be opening up to user generated content, a feature popular among other browsers that lets users place tags in virtual space. Additionally, Layar is currently developing image recognition technology which it hopes to implement into its browser by the end of the year.

The user placed objects will feature the ability to interact, connect, communicate and play with each other. Animated digital objects, which Layar is dubbing “Floaticons,” can be placed in virtual space and fed with “health” to keep it around – increasing the likelihood of user interaction. Image recognition – a highly requested feature that could help bring desktop style AR to the mobile phone – is being developed in collaboration with Kooaba, a leading developer of the technology.

Matt Miesnieks, in charge of distribution at Layar, announced that LG, one of the world’s largest makers of handsets, would be pre-loading Layar onto all of its upcoming Android devices. A few weeks ago, LG announced it would be stepping up its Android game with plans to release 20 new handsets worldwide by year’s end. Layar has previously partnered with other manufacturers, like Samsung, and with this LG partnership the company will be on 1 in 3 new Android smartphones shipped this year.

Layar also announced some additional features that will soon be available on the browser, including background actions and flexible refresh rates for more dynamic layers and moving points of interest (POI). Additionally, developers will be able to fully customize their layer’s AR experience by deciding what items to show and what to do when users click on objects. Finally, Layar will also now support animations and textures on 3D objects within layers.

Also of note, Layar has formed its first major brand partnership with the sandwich franchise Quiznos – a brand known for fun and edgy marketing. Users of Layar will be able to find restaurant locations through the AR browser, as well as view promotional 3D objects at various U.S. landmarks like the New York Stock Exchange bull, and the Hollywood sign.

Eventually, Quiznos hopes to allow for more functionality on Layar, possibly including ordering capabilities and location-based coupons. The partnership will benefit both companies, as Quiznos can extend its brand into AR and emerging social technologies, and Layar will likely benefit from further exposure via the Quiznos brand.

Another important partnership announced today is with National Geographic, which will be using Layar to create AR travel guides. The first one will launch in Washington D.C. and will let users see photos, 3D objects and other items to help them discover interesting facts about the city as they travel through it.

These announcements are encouraging to the greater augmented reality community as Layar makes progress not only within itself but with partnerships with brands and handset makers. According to Layar, it has 716,000 active users and will soon surpass 1,000 layers on its platform. Competition within the mobile AR browser space is heating up, which will drive innovation forward in the coming months and years.

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