Augmented Reality platform Layar gets second round of funding

The Dutch augmented reality platform Layar got a second round of funding, about $14 million, led by Intel Capital. In total (both rounds) Layar got $17,4 million. Layar says the next phase in the life of the company will be all about content:

The next phase is all about content. In the last year we have built a global platform for Augmented Reality. The coming period is about identifying the content formats that can attract and build an audience. We will not wait passively but will be actively involved in supporting our publishers in this process.

The company remains based in Amsterdam but is also opening a US office in San Francisco. So, is this yet another example that augmented reality becomes big business? Not so fast. Robin Wauters on TechCrunch says

The question remains: is augmented reality a fad or poised to go mainstream?

The jury is still out on that, but Intel Capital and Layar’s initial backers are clearly betting on the latter to happen in the near future, and on the Dutch startup to help make it a reality.

Well, let’s hope it works out. I have Layar on my iPhone, and even though I played with it, it remains one of the apps I hardly use these days. It seems that my old-fashioned Google maps (combined with location based services such as Foursquare) cover my needs most of the time. I could imagine interesting applications such as putting layers of historical images on the physical reality of all major cities. Maybe there are not enough content creators to provide such cool layers (instead of yet another listing of restaurants), and so users give up on it, making that potential content creators are frustrated because of the limited user base.

Kevin C. Tofel on GigaOm gives an example of historical information on Layar. Now just imagine ways to have this kind of view in a more compelling way than through your smartphone camera and also imagine to have these layers in an ubiquitous, interactive and real time way – then I think something like mainstream traction becomes very probable.

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