Monday, 2 August 2010

AR mobile quest part 1: first steps taken for mobile augmented reality with Android phone

Sometimes the steps in between a learning applications are not mentioned, however all the steps leading up to a result or to the use of a tool can be interesting and possibly helpful. So I decided to take hold of all the steps leading up to a new Augmented Reality (AR) mobile learning application.

Why do I look at AR? Because it can make learning outside the classroom even more captivating, because AR allows a teacher/informal learner/... to add a virtual layer of information to the real world. The nice thing about AR is also that it lights up, only when a person is at a certain point. This means that as a user or a learner you only get that information that is relevant to you at a certain location and time.

So what did I do today?

  1. Today I got my newly bought HTC desire ready (well, I bought it two months ago, but I kept using my other phone while trying out the HTC desire functions).
  2. Secondly I got a Layar developer account ( This is building on a previous post that I wrote in June 2009 when Layar got their first big media attention. What is Layar? Layar is currently a top tool if you want to try out AR for mobile phones (iPhone 3GS and Android phones). It enables a user to build a layer onto the real world. For example: if you are standing in front of the Eiffel tower, and you are wondering where to find a good, real French bar, you take out your mobile phone, activate layar, and look through your phone to the surrounding areas of the Eiffel tower (well, words do not tell the whole picture, so feel free to take a look at the Layar movie below. But how does this work? Well the technical logic behind it is quite complex, but in simple terms: if you have a compass on your mobile phone and you have a GPS possibility, the phone will be able to calculate where you are standing AND in which direction you are aiming your mobile device.
  3. And last but not least I got a Hoppala account (you have to get a Layar developer account before you can get access to Hoppala. Now Hoppala is an easy step up to Layar, as it enables you to simply add some information to the real world by writing information that can be added to a location (also here, feel free to look at the movie on Hoppala below).

After this, I created a Layar of my own, a simple one: arlearning. I will add a link to the layar as soon as I have some content on it, but that will be for a later post.

When I was testing out Layar as it exists in my location, I stumbled upon Tweepsaround. This is a wonderful location based application, that gives you the time and content of tweets that were written nearby your location. You can even choose to go to the location (via google maps) where the tweet was sent. Really nice!
Just to give you an idea, it took me less 1 hour and 15 minutes to get all of this together (not counting the wait for the Layar developers code to arrive, as this can take a day).

Let's look at some describing videos:

Layar (this is not the latest promotional video of Layar, but the more comprehensible older one):

And now for Hoppala, the first mobile app I will be using to create a learning app:

Have fun and share if you have a layar! I would love to have a look.