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Good user interfaces are crucial for good user experience. It doesn’t matter how good a technology is — if we, designers, don’t manage to make user interface as intuitive and attractive as possible, the technology will hardly reach a breakthrough.
Layar , one of the first companies to start popularizing the concept of augmented reality browsing using modern day’s mobile phone cameras, is today announcing the addition of 3D capabilities to its AR browser platform for Android and will be demoing the experience starting tomorrow at the Picnic Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. With 3D, third-party developers can now tag real-life objects with three-dimensional text, place 3D objects on top of real-world space and create multi-sensory experiences.
<img class="alignnone size-large wp-image-22953" title="layar3" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/gadgetlab/2009/08/layar3-660x368.png" alt="layar3" width="660" height="368" /> As you shove your way through the crowd in a baseball stadium, the lenses of your digital glasses display the names, hometowns and favorite hobbies of the strangers surrounding you. Then you claim a seat and fix your attention on the batter, and his player statistics pop up in a transparent box in the corner of your field of vision.
Layar , the jaw-dropping Dutch Augmented Reality browser we wrote about earlier this summer, announced today that it is now available worldwide on Android handsets. Hundreds of new data layers are available to view on top of your phone's camera viewer, from Wikipedia entries when you're looking at geographic points of interest to Trulia real estate listings that are viewable when you point your phone at homes for sale. Trulia says it only took about 3 hours to build its layer on the Layar data set, something that's very promising for the future of the platform. The program is now coming preinstalled on the Samsung Galaxy (i7500) in the Netherlands, and the company says the iPhone 3GS will be next. Other developers have reported that they expect the iPhone to offer official support for Augmented Reality apps as soon as next month .
There's another dimension present, everywhere we go, that a growing number of technologists are working to uncover. These people aren't talking about theoretical physics or a magical world of fairies and gnomes - they're talking about information that could offer more context to traditionally physical lived experience. Augmented Reality (AR) is the phrase being used and this practice of making layers of data available on top of real world experiences could be a big one soon. Improvements in geolocation, bandwidth, mobile devices and APIs are the foundation of this feeling that a useful Augmented Reality may be more realistic today than ever before. AR isn't new, but it's been pretty hokey so far.
We ran a post on ARMedia a while ago and now the Augmented Reality plugin for SketchUp is available for the Mac.