Graffiti goes virtual with augmented reality app LZRTAG
By Enid Burns
July 12, 2012
Several years ago, every inch of the New York City Subway system – along with other public transportation systems around the world, was covered in graffiti. Now there's fewer tags, but more ways to express yourself. The virtual world is one new venue for graffiti and the art of tagging. Augmented reality app LZRTAG is hoping to advance those tags to images and even animations, but you need a smartphone to make that happen.
LZRTAG is an Android app that sees paired marker tags, a modification of a 3D barcode, trigger the virtual reality aspect of the app. Artists create an image or animation, upload it to the site, and then get the marker tags to place on a real-world surface. These marker tags are similar to the corner pieces used to hold photographs in an album. When placed properly, they create a frame for the tag to appear.
By focusing a smartphone camera on the marker tags using the LZRTAG app, the image appears on the phone's screen between the two brackets. Tags can include still images and animations with a file size up to 250 kB. Each uploaded tag lasts for at least six months; longer if the tag is frequently being read. If a tag is no longer being read at the end of the six-month period, the marker tags will get recycled to be used with another tag.
LZRTAG proposes more uses than graffiti. Media outlets and advertisers can use the augmented reality app to provide an interactive element to print media, billboards, and even the computer screen. A newspaper might include the marker tags in a story to provide some simple video or additional images. An advertiser can run an animated image of its logo or product.
Examples include a tag on LZRTAG's website flashing the company logo, an animation of lipstick being applied to a pair of lips on the page of a magazine, and a brief video showing on the front page of the New York Times newspaper.
The service is free. However for larger uses, such as advertisers, the company offers a license to host tags.
This video below from LZRTAG shows a few examples of marker tags-turned-virtual using the smartphone app, which is available on Google play.