Mobile

Layar to bring its augmented reality to one-third of global smartphones

The last time VentureBeat checked in with Dutch augmented reality startup Layar, it had just launched a store for different services that can layer information over the world around you via your mobile phone screen. Today, it is taking these services global with a round of deals that will make them compatible with one-third of the world’s smartphones.

Just one year after its founding, Layar says it is poised to bring tens of millions of new users into its fold. How? Through partnerships with LG, Samsung, TCT Mobile and a yet unnamed Chinese handset manufacturer. And the company says it will be adding more names to this roster in coming months. By the start of next year, Layar claims that its services will be pre-installed on 75 percent of phone shipped around the world.

Greater global reach means millions more users will be able to view more information about their immediate environments through their phones. Layar acts as a viewfinder, overlaying graphics that give users information about the buildings they pass, like restaurant menus, real estate prices, movie times, ongoing sales, and more. Now third-party publishers can create their own services like this and have them offered through the Layar platform.

The company pegs its audience at 2.2 million, with 700,000 using its products in the last month.

In addition to extending its reach, Layar has also built in some new product features to make its services more social and to integrate more gaming mechanics that have proved popular for other smartphone applications. This update is the company’s fourth since its launch.

The new features include “floaticons,” graphics that float on top of what you’re seeing in the viewfinder, rather than pegs indicating that there is a point of interest nearby. Users can also now view new building plans, with their phone screens showing what is slated to be built in a particular spot (see picture above), or in some cases, what building used to exist somewhere.

Layar is also capitalizing on the trend toward the gamification of life. Now, some of its offerings allow users to collect virtual objects in real life locations or by completing certain real life tasks in order to score points.

The company raised $3.4 million in February of this year from Sunstone Capital and Prime Technology Ventures.


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