Image recognition and augmented-reality platform Blippar recently received $45 million from unknown investors to create a reality-based search engine. Blippar will be using the funding to expand its global reach and bolster the engineering team. With 10 international offices and approximately 200 employees, Blippar is no stranger to expansion, and they are poised to continue their reach.
Blippar, which offers an app available on Android, iOS, and Windows mobile, was previously partnered with large-name brands to increase interactivity among consumers. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Proctor and Gamble, and General Mills are only a few of Blippar’s better-known clientele, and the inspiration behind technology allowing consumers to scan a label with their phones and receive predetermined information, such as ketchup recipes and crossword puzzle answers.
While this is all very useful, Blippar has bigger plans. The new goal is to find a way for users to search for content without picking up text-based cues.
“Words actually don’t help us out all that much,” Ambarish Mitra told TechCrunch.com. “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 technology, consumers would be able to photograph the red dress in question, which would bring up information about it, such as a website where it was sold or social media mentions. Americans spend roughly two hours on their mobile devices each day, which is two hours when they may need information about something they have seen. Each month, over 100 billion search engine inquiries are conducted each month, and if the Blippar technology is successful, that number is sure to grow.
“The purpose of this fund raise is to take a whole new direction of being a visual search engine,” Mitra explained to Upstart Business Journal. “We’ve learned looking at our existing users’ behaviour against billions of data points, that people seek data using the phone and our app. We want to make ‘blip’ a verb that means to search visually.”
Blippar was originally located in London, but eight months after its founding, Mitra relocated the main headquarters to New York, hoping to capitalize on the city’s abundant advertising revenue. Now that he has been in New York for two years, Mitra has found that he enjoys New York’s fast pace, reliable public transportation, and busy lifestyle.
Blippar will be unveiling its new technology at South by Southwest (SXSW), a music festival held annually in Austin, Texas. Initially, it will only support fiction books, movies, music, and U.S. sports teams, but Blippar plans to expand into other categories on a weekly basis.