New Google Glass app makes objects interactive in real time

A new app from Blippar brings real-time image recognition augmented reality to Google Glass users.


View while using Blipper Glass app and looking at an object.
Photo: Blippar

Imagine walking down the street while wearing Google Glass and, as you pass a store, news of a sale at that retailer appears in your field of vision. Or, as you visit a tourist spot, Google Glass automatically displays a note left by a previous visitor. These are features that a new image recognition app from Blippar is making a reality.

Last week, Blippar debuted an app, Blippar Glass, that uses real-time image recognition augmented reality to bring lightning-fast information to Google Glass users, said CEO Ambarish Mitra. Blippar is a visual discovery/augmented reality marketing company with a client list that includes Google, Coca-Cola, Nike, Sony and General Mills.

Blippar originally developed this app for use with smartphones, and now it’s available for Google Glass. “While we were building this business [for smartphones], Google announced its Glass product and we felt this was an absolute natural extension to what we were doing,” Mitra said.

“When the Glass actual physical product came out, critics and skeptics said it’s low powered and couldn’t support real augmented reality. What we mean by real augmented reality is physically noticing something in the real world and putting a layer on top of it,” Mitra said. “This is the first time in the world that anybody has shown that Glass could be used beyond taking pictures and video and using maps and actually used for looking at objects to give people additional information.”

Wikipedia of the real world

Mitra described using the app as a “Wikipedia of the real world just by looking at things. That’s where we are heading in the business.”

Right now, the app isn’t available to the general public. It will be available in four to six weeks for current Google Glass users, and when Google rolls out Glass to a widespread audience later this year, the app will be available to everyone, Mitra said.

“We are going to work with Google now to actually pre-release it for them to deliver it to their network of Google Glass users. We’d like to be getting market feedback,” he said.

The app uses a cloud-based recognition engine. When a user views something that is recognized by the Blippar database, it recognizes it within 300 milliseconds, Mitra said.

Future uses for app

Mitra said he wants to see wearables, and the app, become mainstream. He said he foresees future uses such as a New Yorker looking at their Metro card, and finding out which trains are running and when. Users can also add their own content into the database, such as notes for people visiting sites they’ve been to, similar to Yelp reviews.  “And you don’t just leave a note, but text, video, picture, messages,” he said.

Mitra explained, “Treat this as a browser between the digital and the physical world. People can add billions of pieces of content through Blippar. It’s not picture taking. It’s literally looking at it. You don’t have to press a button. You get real time information. You move your head from one product to another and you get new information. Everything happens in real time.”

By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is Associate Managing Editor at TechRepublic. She oversees TechRepublic's news team and TechRepublic Premium. She focuses on tech and business and how the two worlds intersect. Teena's lifelong journalism career has included writing on s...