Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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New version of Powerhouse Museum in Layar : augmented reality browsing of museum photos around Sydney

April 16th, 2010 by Seb Chan

Last year we trialled Layar for the display of historical photos of Sydney from the collection. At the time Layar was not all that stable and our content was mixed in with those of others.

Now the application is more stable and our layer in Layar is discoverable simply by searching ‘Powerhouse Museum’ in the Layer browser. You can also now view the original images in Flickr without leaving Layar making for a far better user experience.

This is still very early days and we’re thinking around the possibilities. Thanks to Rob and Alex at Mob-Labs for the development work.

What do I need?

You’ll need either an iPhone 3GS or an Android phone. It is not compatible with the iPod Touch or earlier versions of the iPhone because they lack a compass.

Then you need to install the free Layar application.

Using Layar

1. Go to the central business district of Sydney.

2. Open Layar on your mobile device then select Search.
Type ‘powerhouse museum’.

3. Select the Layar to open the browser with Powerhouse content loaded.

You may find a lot of points appear on your screen. If this happens you need to reduce the view distance in Layar.

You can switch between the ‘reality’ view and map and list views.

Interacting with Layar

Selecting a point of interest in any view will bring up a thumbnail and options to view the image on Flickr or navigation directions to reach the point if it is not where you are standing.

Can I try it if I am not in Sydney?

If you’d like to try it from outside Sydney you can do so. You’ll have to go to the Layar Preferences – under your phone settings on the iPhone – and set the ‘Use Fixed Location’ to On. The latitude you should enter is -33.878611 and longitude 151.19944.

The next version?

Soon we’ll be uploading a bunch of other points – contemporary photography from the same locations – and then adding some game elements. Stay tuned.

Thanks again to Rob and Alex at Mob-Labs for the development work.

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