There are quite a few different augmented reality apps floating around the smartphone world right now. Unfortunately, most of them only take a very narrow view to what 'augmented reality' means. The majority of AR apps you'll see are basically tricked out map applications. They just overlay some map and basic search info. There are lots of uses for an app like that, but it's a little short of true AR.
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The folks at Layar get augmented reality. They know where the technology is headed. That's why Layar 3.0, released today, is such a departure from every other app out on the Market. In this Blog post, the Layar team explains their vision.
This new version of Layar allows developers to augment and alter the real world in order to tell stories and dispense valuable information. One example is the new Market Hall in Rotterdam. Though the building is incomplete, users who look at the site with their AR app will see a representation of the finished building, complete with a navigable inside. Another good example is the Abbey Road tour, which super-imposes photos of, and information about the Beatles and their music over 42 locations in Abbey Road, London.
These are just two examples of the kind of things that are possible with Layar 3.0. Artists will also be able to create and display art in the augmented world. Works of art, zeppelins, graffiti, and alien space ships will soon be flying through the enhanced reality of a city near you.
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Layar 3.0 is available now for the Android Market if you have an Android 1.5 or 1.6 device. Droid users will have to wait a bit, as the Android 2.0 app is still being tested. A version of 3.0 for the App Store has also been created, and is pending approval from Apple.