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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Layar for Symbian is here!

Who would have thought that Layar would ever implement a Symbian version? I sure didn't. I used to think that there won't ever be an augmented reality application for Symbian^3, but Symbian^1? How about that.

For those of you who don't know what Layar or augmented reality is, here's the Wikipedia definition::

"Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real-world with a simulated one.
Augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world. The term augmented reality is believed to have been coined in 1990 by Thomas Caudell, working at Boeing.[1]"

So, to put it plainly, you open up the AR application, point your phone's camera to a building, restaurant, park or anything else, and your phone tells you what's there and other points of interest. It practically puts a layer(hence Layar) of information over the live image.

Why is this useful? Because when you go out of town and stroll around a foreign city, you get hungry. So you see a restaurant, and you want to see if it's worth eating there. So you open up Layar, point the phone's camera at the restaurant and voilla! you have all the information you need about that restaurant one tap away.

You can download Layar for Symbian here.

And here is the official announcement.

Well, this puts the apocalyptic vision that roams around about Symbian's death into perspective doesn't it? Now, why would a company like Layar invest into a Symbian version if the they would think that Symbian is dying? They wouldn't. I for one believe that there is still hope for Symbian, and that Nokia will see it's success and will keep developing it as a secondary OS, just like they do with S40.