Innovation That Matters

Augmented reality app reveals architecture past, present & future

Travel & Tourism

When we first covered the prize-winning Layar augmented reality browser back in September, we had a feeling applications would soon start start popping up all over the innovation landscape. Sure enough, just a month or so later we saw the technology used at a music festival, and now it’s being put to work to reveal insights about Dutch architecture. To recap on AR: when a camera-equipped smartphone is pointed at a scene, AR apps will superimpose information and links relevant to the location. SARA, which was created by the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) in partnership with IN10 Communicatie and Layar, is billed as the world’s first mobile architecture application featuring augmented reality with 3D models. Users of the technology simply hold up their smartphone to see photos, video, 3D models, scale models and other details about buildings currently in situ as well as those from the past and any planned for the future. The app is currently showcasing the new Market Hall in Rotterdam’s Blaak district. Although it’s still under construction, those with the app can view a 3D model of how the finished building will look. SARA also allows users to add their own information about any building or map tours of their favourite architecture. Beginning next month, the entire city of Rotterdam will be viewable through SARA; within five years, NAi expects the whole country to be covered. The technology was launched last month on the Layar platform and will be downloadable from the Apple App Store and Android Market beginning next month. It’s not hard to imagine augmented reality apps like SARA becoming a key component of tourism, giving visitors to an area insight about not just the architecture but also historical events and other points of interest. The possibilities are virtually limitless; time to get to work! (Related: iPhone app helps road warriors find a place to workLouis Vuitton’s walking tours of Beijing, Shanghai & Hong Kong.)



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