A glimspe of Windows 8

by Kevin Gilmartin

There’s a lot of excitement around Augmented Reality. The technology is undeniably cool, but nobody has really done anything useful with it…until now. Step forward please, Blippar – the Augmented Reality advertising platform.

Print advertising has seen fierce competition from its online counterpart in recent years, and there have been several attempts to modernise the medium, all of which have met with limited success.

There was the brief trend of including a myspace (remember myspace?) link on adverts, then Facebook pages and “liking” were promoted on adverts and, more recently, QR codes have ruled the advertising roost.
Blipper enabled Jurassic Park ad

Notice the Blippar logo, bottom left

Now, I think QR codes are cool – I’ve seen them used on cupcakes, on bus stops, on necklaces, even on tattoos!

Not everyone agrees with me, though; the non-tech savvy public don’t really “get” them and some people just think they’re ugly looking. And that’s the problem with QR codes – they’re functional, but they just ain’t pretty!

Blippar aims to change all that. It uses the latest in image recognition technology to make the image itself the trigger for the extra content.

An ad is printed in a newspaper and has the Blippar “b” logo on there to indicate that it’s Blippar enabled; all you have to do is open up your Blippar app, point it at the ad, and BANG! Out pops a very cool interactive display with links to videos, websites, store finders, animations etc.

My favourite is the Jurassic Park advert with a “blipped” link to the trailer.

You see the Jurassic Park advert, there on the right, in your newspaper and spot the Blippar logo on the bottom left. All you have to do is open up the Blippar app on your Android or Apple iOS device and point it at the ad.

Almost immediately, Blippar overlays augmented reality content and suddenly instead of the drab advertisment you started with, you have the image below. The dino head moves slightly and the Play Trailer button links you the video on Youtube:

There are more examples in Blippar’s Facebook page. It’s very clever, and it’s very, very cool; but perhaps more importantly it’s prettier, more user friendly and less cumbersome than QR codes.

Blippar’s evangelists are hailing it as the beginning of the end for QR codes, but where the clunky black and white QR has a distinct advantage is with its accessibility to the standard user. I can go online right now and create a QR linking to anything I please – videos, websites, images, even a foursquare check-in. I can then take that QR and put it anywhere I please (see the aforementioned cupcake).

What would be awesome would be a Blippar creator that could be used by the everyday public. Just imagine if you could upload an image through some proprietary software, upload the AR overlay that you’ve created in Flash, HTML 5, Photoshop, or whatever, and save them.

You could have a photo of you as a baby, that “blips” to a photo of you now, like a before and after; or one of your bald mate, all respectable in his wedding suit that blips to show that embarassing photo of him minging drunk and wearing a wig.

Personally, I’m rather excited about the possibilities Blippar has in the field of Augmented Reality tattoos…

Blippar is available in the Apple App store, and in limited Beta on several Android devices right now. What would you “blip”? Let us know in the comments!
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