Layar is an augmented reality (AR) mobile app which presents additional content on your mobile screen when an encoded image is scanned. Throwing Snow (Ross Tones) used a Layar-coded album cover for this week's release of "Mosaic." Though Layar emphasizes the use of print images, once encoded they can be scanned online. AR of this type is an interesting phenomenon that is still trying to breakthrough and is not without its drawbacks as illustrated, to some degree, by the "Mosaic" campaign.
The idealized vision is enticing:
"Bring print to life with Layar!"
Actual use of the Layar app is a bit less magical.
In the case of the album cover for Throwing Snow's new album "Mosaic," one scans the intricate piece of art that is brought to life with an animation by Rick Ross who I assumed did the album cover as well.
It's a brief video clip in which the figures on the cover begin to move as music plays. I think the process of downloading the app took longer than watching the enigmatic clip.
Sadly the clip doesn't look so good on a smartphone screen though it would probably look great on a tablet. You can see something intriguing happening but it's a bit unclear and then it's quickly over.
Check out this engaging Rick Robin-created viideo for Throwing Snow's "The Tempest" and, if you're on a desktop or tablet, compare the difference between the normal video display and fullscreen. It's so much richer in the larger size and sometimes a bit indecipherable in the smaller format.
Some people might still find that really cool but I think there's a mismatch in terms of viewability and in terms of length. There's just not enough there to justify bothering with it as a viewer which is unfortunately a widespread problem with many such mini-campaigns.
Having to download an app to see the brief event is part of the mismatch in this case. Unfortunately, until something like Layar becomes truly ubiquitous, a project like Throwing Snow's becomes more of a marketing device for Layar than vice versa.
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