If you caught the Copper Robot show on Sunday or any of our recent talkcasts, you may have heard me yammering at length about the possibilities for using the iPhone 3G S in enhanced or augmented reality applications. After the dynamic demo of compass-enhanced Google Street View on the Android Dream, the news of a magnetometer included with the 3G S -- allowing the phone to determine its direction with respect to the real world, along with position (GPS/SkyHook) and orientation/acceleration (accelerometer) -- starts to make geeks drool with eagerness for practical heads-up displays or browsable views of the world.
Here it comes, folks. As noted over at 9to5Mac, the Layar app from Dutch developer SPRXmobile will get Android phones into the realm of science fiction X-ray specs when it comes out at the end of this month. Point your phone across the street to see what houses are for sale, which bars are offering happy hour specials, or where the nearest ATM might be. A live, animated overlay points out the key locations and moves with your camera view. It's tough enough to describe, so I've got the video in the second half of this post -- but the effect is impressive. The previously-announced Wikitude app gives a travel guide the same augmented treatment for Android.
The guys at IntoMobile have given Layar a good once-over and come away quite awed. I can't wait to see this app, or one like it, make it over to the App Store. Add some social networking features from Brightkite or foursquare and iPhone users will jump all over this -- but they'll have to be careful not to walk into lampposts.