Dublin is the worlds first city to provide a pointing technology- enabled smartphone application, which allows users to point their mobile device at a building or object in the real world and retrieve information about it, it was announced at the beginning of September. The Augmented Reality feature allows users to access electronically-stored data regarding a point of interest they are looking at, for example overlaid images, opening times or playing audio. The app covers the greater Dublin area and operates within a 10 km radius from where the user is located.
Katowice was just pipped to the post by Dublin, announcing the use of 'Layar' technology to provide a similar style of service on 9th September, some 9 days after Dublin. Wrocław tried not to be outdone by launching a system which tells you about buildings in the town when you take a photo with your mobile phone. This was reported in Gazeta Wyborcza on 14 September.
The Polish city of Łódż has taken a different technology approach. They allocated bar codes to buildings which if read by a mobile phone reader will trigger a bluetooth download and transmit information about the building or location.
When it comes to the prize for the first country using Layar augmented reality, then the Netherlands can claim it fairly and squarly for the announcement as far back as June 16th 2009 of the Layar system provided by SPRXmobile. Layar is derived from location based services and works on mobile phones that include a camera, GPS and a compass. Layar is first available for handsets with the Android operating system (the G1 and HTC Magic). It works as follows: Starting up the Layar application automatically activates the camera. The embedded GPS automatically knows the location of the phone and the compass determines in which direction the phone is facing. Each partner provides a set of location coordinates with relevant information which forms a digital layer. By tapping the side of the screen the user easily switches between layers. This makes Layar a new type of browser which combines digital and reality, which offers an augmented view of the world.
We are taking a step closer to the situation when the physical and the virtual worlds will become one.