Check out the
video here, where the Engadget guys get a live demo from a member of the Layar team.
The power of Layar, and indeed all augmented reality
apps like it, is definitely shown in the video. The neat radar feature, which hadn’t been described before, would be extremely useful if you were using the app to, say, track down the nearest ATM. But notice the local restaurant the demonstration mentions? Its information was accessed via Hives (the “Dutch Facebook”, with 70% membership in the country) which displayed an image as part of the AR display. The particular restaurant didn’t have a logo on the Hives service, and instead a default icon was shown.
And that’s interesting because augmented reality devices on a smartphone are particularly well suited for businesses that need to attract customers to their locations. Imagine a future when instead of picking up a restaurant guide for a city you’re visiting you simply dial up your fave AR app, and filter through its results. Restaurants that don’t have a Web presence in one or many different formats, will simply not get a look-in. We’ve already seen that Web-based advertising, and business-specific Websites with links to Facebook and other social networks is definitely the future, but with AR it’s probably even more critical.
And there’s another wrinkle–if your Web presence isn’t registered with the right location-based content provider, or isn’t graphically and textually polished enough, like the one in the clip, you may also lose out on potential AR-generated trade. And then there’s the matter of reviews. Scoring consistently well in customer reviews for your service will be even more important when anyone wandering by with a smartphone can check out how satisfied your customers are, or how good the food in your restaurant is.
That may turn out to be an unexpected boon of the coming augmented reality craze–better customer service for everyone. We can only hope so anyway.