Skyhook’s location positioning capabilities are being integrated into the Layar augmented reality browser for Android. The impact should be better location awareness and precision for Layar. According to the press release:Skyhook, the worldwide leader in location positioning, context and intelligence, today announced that Layar, the world’s leading augmented reality browser platform, has added Skyhook’s Core Engine to its Android application for improved location results. The Layar Reality Browser displays real time digital information on top of reality in the camera screen of the mobile phone. While looking through the phone’s camera lens, a user can see houses for sale, popular bars and shops, tourist information of the area, play a live game, etc. The Layar platform serves as an enabler for mobile location services – any database with geo-location information can easily be turned in a content layer.
Skyhook’s triangulation data was replaced on iOS 4 by Apple’s own system, though it remains on earlier versions of the iPhone/iOS.
Simply put, augmented reality has been over-hyped. Everyone knows about Layar but I’m unaware of anyone who regularly uses it for ordinary mobile searches. The concept is very “cool,” but the utility is quite limited. The same is true for Yelp’s “monocle.” It’s “cool” but far less useful that Yelp’s regular features.
Augmented reality will be useful as a way to get more information about places, objects (e.g., art) and products right in front of me but it will have a smaller role to play as a replacement for general search. There are other use cases depending on how we define “augmented reality.”
Having said that the camera will be an increasingly important content-input mechanism. However this is distinct from augmented reality as I’m defining it.
As an aside many of the important “augmented reality” patents are owned by early pioneer GeoVector. Someone will probably want to acquire GeoVector if for no other reason than to get its IP portfolio.