Blippar, an augmented reality ad platform that uses real-world tags to deliver extra AR content in offline situations, has raised $45 million in new funding from undisclosed investors. This comes on the heels of a big 2014 for UK-based Blippar, wherein the company made its first acquisition by purchasing Layar in June. Combined, the merged companies boast over 50 million global users.
But given the growth of the space, Blippar is ready to take the next step forward.
As it stands now, Blippar is mostly an advertising or publishing tool that allows a brand to put a “Blipp” (a real-world marker) on their offline goods that allow users to access an AR layer of information through their camera. It’s a speedy, beautiful product, but people are only so interested in chatting with brands.
Blippar founder Rish Mitra sees far more expansive applications for the technology, the most important of which is search.
“Words actually don’t help us out all that much,” said Mitra. “When you see a red dress on the street in New York, there’s no way to accurately describe that dress in a search on the internet. You would use a different description than I would, or someone else would, based on our differing perceptions.”
With the new version of Blippar (which doesn’t require real-world markers), users would ideally be able to point their camera at any object (like an apple or a red dress) and instantly see all of the extra information around it, like a purchasing page or a conversation around that object on Twitter or Instagram or videos on YouTube.
Obviously, the system won’t simply change overnight. Blippar is unveiling its latest technology next week at SXSW and will start in a few verticals, including Movies, Music, Books (fiction) and US-based sports teams, and expand into new verticals on a “week-by-week basis.”
But at scale, this changes Blippar’s model significantly. With physical markers, Blippar’s growth was limited to brokering individual deals with various brands (quite successfully, for that matter, with more than 2,500 brands on board). By making every object ‘blippable’, the company no longer has to grow on a product-by-product basis but can sell advertising space on just about anything.