The Tech Behind Blippar: Computer Vision

The Next Phase of Computing

To enable the next phase of computing, we believe that Computer vision is a key technology that you need.  Computer vision is about understanding the world around you.  You need to understand the world around you before you can overlay information.  Augmented reality is the mechanism of overlaying experiences over the physical world.  Giving you a digital overlay or an interactive layer over the world that you see.

What is Computer Vision?

Computer vision is key to this next phase of evolution.  You need to be able to understand the world around you before you can interact with it.  So you need to make sense of the world around you.  There are two different types of technologies or spaces within computer vision that are allowing you to do this.

The first space is semantic computer vision.  This allows you to identify objects in the scene through your camera.  So this can pick out a child, dog, grass, sky, buildings, and give you a semantic view of the world that is being seen through your camera device.

On the other side, there is a geometric understanding.  This is the other side of computer vision working in tandem with semantic computer vision.  This is about mapping the surface and the space that you are in.  So this the size of the room, the size of a specific surface, given the ability to be able to map objects on to that specific surface.

Combining these two together can give you the ability to have realistic AR experiences in the real world.  So once you’ve understood the world around you, then you have augmented reality.  An augmented reality is about overlaying information on top of physical objects and making them interactive.  Then adding more information on top of that layer.

Combining Computer Vision with AR

When we look at AR, there are probably apps that you are already using all the time right now.  AR is already becoming a part of your daily lives without you even realizing it.  If you take for example Google’s translate app, this is a form of AR image recognition to provide a real-time translation.  This is a form of augmented reality and computer vision.  Secondly is another famous example that peaked in 2016 called Pokemon Go.  One of the key technologies sitting within Pokemon Go and one of the reasons why it was so popular was the augmented reality layer provided.  1 in 10 people in the world were using Pokemon Go which is a staggering amount of people.  One of the fundamental technologies within Pokemon Go was augmented reality.

Industry Leaders Views

Industry leaders are also backing this up.  So the Apple CEO Tim Cook has been very outspoken recently about how the impact that AR is going to bring the world and how it is going to move technology forward.  He uses the word “profound”, how it is going to be a profound shift in a technological sense.  He compares it to the shift that the iPhone created when that launched.  Industry experts also back this up.  They are saying that the revenue that is going to be spent in this area of AR and VR is going to peak into the numbers around about a 100 billion dollar industry by 2021.  That is only 4 years away which means there is huge growth to be had here.  That is going to span across advertising, communication, healthcare, education, entertainment, all these different spaces are going to be disrupted by the likes of AI, AR, and computer vision.

Apple Betting Big on AR

Apple is making this easier for us as developers in this space.  They are really betting big by baking in a software layer within their latest IOS version.  This allows greater capabilities within the IOS platform for launching AR experiences.  Apple went one step forward and launched the iPhone X (iPhone 10) which is a purpose-built solution and device that allows you to drive greater capabilities within augmented reality.  The iPhone X has sophisticated front and back cameras that allow you to drive greater depth within the experiences that you create.

Google Betting Big on AR

Google is also on the same track.  They really took the lead back in 2004 when they launched their Tango device which had very sophisticated surface mapping technology and tracking technology.  They’ve now launched their Android solution, so they are opening this up to hundreds of millions of developers that can now develop on this platform on Android as well.  So they are betting big in the surface tracking space within the Android platform.

So we are getting to this moment where we are hitting this perfect storm of opportunity.  Technology has evolved.  There is consumer adoption and there are great use cases as to why AR makes sense for a brand or a company to use essentially as part of their marketing or business toolkit.

Chris Bell
Chris Bell

Chris joined Blippar in Oct 2015 and his main focuses are – Regional business expansion and growth strategy; VP/C-suite brand partnering; Regional Agency / Holding Group executive partnering; Regional user acquisition and marketing planning; Strategic partnership development; Team building and growth.

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