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Blippar makes a British stand in Las Vegas

The London-based augmented reality start-up, which won a UKT&I competition for space on the CES 2012 show floor, lays out its apps and its ambition to be as recognisable as Twitter
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Topic: CES
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Film trailer AR

Start-up Blippar has begun demonstrating its augmented-reality apps to the crowds at CES 2012, after winning an UK Trade and Investment (UKT&I) competition to discover the best in British innovation.

The London-based company, which launched in August, received sponsorship from the agency to go to Las Vegas, including a paid-for booth on the show floor. It is showcasing its free app for iOS and Android — also called Blippar — that uses a mobile device's camera, GPS and image-recognition technology to provide augmented reality for advertising.

On the user's end, this is done by simply opening Blippar and placing the camera over the 'call to action' on the product, flyer, magazine or newspaper. The call to action (or 'blip', as the company calls it) then triggers the app to deliver an augmented-reality layer, which tells the user more about the product. In the example above, the film poster blip starts playing a movie trailer on the iPad.

Blippar is working on pushing forward its technology, but this does not include a software development kit (SDK), Blippar's business development manager Dave Black told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

"We don't want SDKs, because we don't want people developing bad experiences for brands," he said. "We don't want brands to be able to hijack other people's creatives. There are other companies here with open SDKs. Essentially, if you are Adidas you can go to a Nike poster and put your advert on that poster."

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Stored blips

In contrast with some augmented-reality technology, the Blippar app doesn't need an active Wi-Fi or data connection to show multimedia related to the scanned blips. It works by storing all the information within the app, which updates whenever it is in range of a connection.

The app also stores all of the user's blips for later viewing (shown above), displaying them down the side of the device screen.

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Watch augmented reality

With some ads, the app allows the user to capture the image for use with real-world objects.

In the picture above, Black has scanned a flyer for a watch and then overlaid that image against his wrist. This is meant to help people see what the watch would look like before deciding to buy it.

The challenge to Blippar's growth comes from having to educate businesses about the potential of augmented reality, Black said, rather than coming from the need to develop new technology.

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Blippar augmented reality

Despite this, Blippar has managed to pull in big-name customers, and on Monday, it announced it has secured investment from Qualcomm, which has its own portfolio of augmented-reality apps. Though Black was unwilling to divulge the specifics of the deal, he did note that Blippar is now setting its sights high.

"The brands are now coming to us, rather than us going to them, which is fantastic," Black said. "We want the Blippar logo to be as recognisable as Facebook's 'F' or Twitter's 'T' — maybe not in the next year, but perhaps within two."


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