Try out augmented reality at MWC 2011

November 4, 2010

Send us your POIs (Points Of Interest)

Wouldn’t it be fun at MWC 2011 to play around with one of today’s most hyped technologies – augmented reality (AR)? Well, Countdown2MWC might just be in a position to help attendees out here thanks to a recent conversation we’ve had with Herve Pellarin, a developer with HPSC, the French software development house. Herve explained that as an early technical demonstration, he had produced an AR layer for Barcelona 2010.

When asked if he was intending to produce a version for 2011, Herve replied that he was thinking of doing so but needed input on what POIs (Points Of Interest) he should include. So here’s a chance for readers to come forward with what kind of information they’d want to “see” while visiting Barcelona.

Typical POIs could be, for example, the nearest underground train station or car park. Alternatively, they could be the nearest bars and major hotels. Or perhaps the nearest tourist attractions.

The above might sound rather like a regular tourist guide, but then you’d be thinking in 2D. How about taking a 3D approach? Virtually every smartphone today has a built-in GPS (satellite) navigation facility; what if you could hold up your smartphone and point its camera at the environment around you? With augmented reality, little transparent icons would immediately start popping up onscreen.

Not only would a 360 degree sweep show you the direction of the nearest car park; it would also tell you how far away it is and give you directions for walking if required.

All of these things are possible right now. The missing piece from the puzzle is a browser for your smartphone that has been specially designed to support AR. Fire up the browser, then load the “skin” you need for Barcelona (for example).

Instead of skins, Herve refers to the relevant add-in AR modules as “layers” – but that’s probably because he was working with a company called Layar with an AR browser of the same name. If you want to take a peek the HPSC MWC 2010 layar is here on the Layar site. It works with Layar’s free browser which is available for the Apple iPhone 3Gs and Android handsets.

What companies like Layar are doing is combining location-aware visualisation technology with an augmented reality application (a browser). Besides displaying images in 3D, these AR browsers can also be used to launch video or audio files, for example, triggered by POIs.

Herve aims to take this process even further and launch other classic actions such as opening a web page, making a phone call, sending an SMS/text or even sending an email — all of this from within the AR browser and linked to associated POIs. You could read a review of a tapas bar and send them a text to book a reservation if their phone is engaged.

Actually AR isn’t new. It’s generally accepted that a researcher at Boeing,Tom Caudell, first coined the term “augmented reality” back in 1990. He used it to describe a digital display used by aircraft electricians that blended virtual graphics onto a physical reality.

Herve claims that his own layar works on Samsung Bada handsets as well as the iPhone and Android devices. Layar isn’t the only company with an AR browser. Another established provider is Metaio with its Junaio browser.

Please feel free to email us at mwc@launchpad-europe.com with your POI suggestions and we’ll pass them on to Herve.



  1. Hello,

    AR is going to be the next level applications for our mobile phones. It’s amazing that your phone can see things that your eyes don’t.

    Imagine to have AR working together with AI, where you can interact with an avatar. It definitely would be a very good application.

    I think in the next years the people involved in this new industry of apps and services definitely will enjoy the creativity and they will broke the limits of the reality and the extra or augmented reality. Each time the phone vendors are including the needed libraries to manage 3D objects.

    I would like to be in the development, I have already downloaded some libraries to work in Windows Mobile and iPhone. I cannot run any example downloaded from the forums but I would like to have a meet in the MWC in order to know more information about this AR.

    For me it is impossible to buy a ticket because is expensive, so I wonder if you can give me one to meet us in Barcelona. I’m from Colombia and the company where I’m working actually can give me the Plane Ticket to travel there.

    Diego Arbeláez

    • Try contacting the AR companies directly and suggesting you meet up!

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