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Daqri, which lets any user create bar codes called QR codes that display images, movies and other pieces of content as soon as they are viewed through an iPhone camera, announced today it is launching a private beta test.

The company made the announcement at the Launch Conference in San Francisco.

Users upload a piece of content and associate it with a QR code. The augmented reality piece automatically displays when anyone opens up the Daqri application and hovers their camera over the QR code. That can be an image, a video or just about anything else as long as there is an existing application programming interface (API).

The technology is called augmented reality. Augmented reality applications overlay content onto the real world through a phone camera. There are applications that focus on augmented reality, such as Layar, while popular general interest apps like Yelp can incorporate the technology too. When the camera is opened, Yelp displays relevant restaurant ratings and reviews depending on where it is pointed.

But the service was pretty nebulous, and didn’t really have a specific application. That would end up hurting the service in the long run because it’s more efficient to focus on a niche, said Aarron Walter, user experience design leader of MailChimp. Most people just won’t know what to do with the application because there are too many options, he said.

“Wordlens and these other augmented reality apps are amazing because they only do one thing,” Walter said. “I know it’s going to do this one thing — make sure you say that it does just one thing.”

But it was still a pretty cool idea, said Yammer founder David Sacks. He said that even though the service was a bit open-ended, it would take off once one user figured out a killer use case for the service. Angel investor Dave McClure suggested an augmented-reality-based game that uses the accelerometer — a use case that involves a spacial component.

“The fascinating part to me was using QR codes, which I think is a more exciting space,” Sacks said. “The augmented reality part is too far ahead and a bit of a red herring, but if they’re flexible and they want to thrash around a bit with QR codes, they’ll be okay.”

The service is available for free for some basic services. Daqri charges $20 a month for a premium service that includes more features, and will probably sell the service to companies that want to re-brand it with their own identity and collect subscription fees.


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