Nov 132010
Google Android: T-Mobile G1
Image by marketingfacts via Flickr

THAT yellow first-down line shown on televised football games isn’t really on the field. But to viewers, it appears to be there, just like the turf and the players.

The technology, developed by Sportvision and called 1st and Ten, is an early commercial example of a field of computer science called augmented reality, in which the real world is overlaid with virtual information. Once the stuff of science fiction, augmented reality is now also making its way to smartphones, thanks to advances in both hardware and software.

People in Amsterdam who download a free application called Layar on their cellphones can look through the camera and see information about nearby restaurants, A.T.M.’s, and available jobs displayed in front of buildings that house them. This information is provided by companies like Hyves, the Dutch social networking site, and ING, the financial services company. The businesses pay a fee to SPRXmobile, the privately held company based in Amsterdam that developed Layar.

Layar is available in the Netherlands for phones running on the Android operating system developed by Google. Maarten Lens-FitzGerald, a co-founder of SPRXmobile, says it will be marketed later this year in the United States, Germany and Britain.

A similar product for Android phones, called, provides information on 800,000 points of interest around the world, according to Philipp Breuss-Schneeweis, founder of Mobilizy, the Austrian company that developed Much of this content comes from Wikipedia, he said.

At Wimbledon this year, Mobilizy worked with I.B.M. to develop an application for the T-Mobile G1 phone that displayed real-time information about matches in progress, as well as dining and transportation options for fans.

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