Creating Augmented Worlds with Blippar CEO Faisal Galaria

Augmented reality (AR) will be one of the tent poles of the Metaverse. Blippar is a leading AR company that specializes in creating augmented worlds. The company creates AR solutions for clients and provides SaaS tools to consumers who want to create their own. Similary, Blippar technology was featured on the hit UK TV show The Apprentice, with contestants using the companies technology as part of their challenges.

As a result, brands across the globe trust Blippar to deliver cutting edge AR, with the content platform crafting award-winning experiences. I had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO of Blippar, Faisal Galaria, about his platform, how he sees AR sitting in the Metaverse and what the future holds for Blippar.

Hi Faisal, can you tell our readers about yourself and your background?

“Since the start of my career, I’ve been interested in and drawn to companies and industries undergoing significant transformation. I joined Blippar as CEO in 2019, a pivotal moment for the business, during which my team and I had to make crucial decisions in terms of the company’s future and direction. These aren’t decisions I shy away from. In fact, my experience to date and energy comes from seeing a company’s potential and then racing towards making it happen.”

“Before joining Blippar, I was the Chief Strategy and Investments Officer at Gocompare, which I helped “carve out” of the listed insurer ensure and then IPO’d it on the London Stock Exchange in 2016. And before this, I was one of the youngest Senior Partners of Alvarez & Marsal, the world’s largest turnaround and restructuring company, where I founded and led the European Digital Media practice.”

“I have gained over 25 years of experience leading and growing teams in some of the world’s most disruptive consumer technology companies, including Spotify, Kayak, Skype, and now Blippar. “

Faisal Galaria CEO of Blippar. Credit: Blippar

What is Blippar?

“Blippar is a leading technology content platform specializing in Augmented Reality; our vision is to enable anyone to create immersive, 3D experiences that can be shared across all social channels or websites and accessed from any smartphone or “head-mounted device.”

“There are several pillars to the business; we build and provide SaaS tools alongside housing our award-winning Studio team. Since joining Blippar, I have made it the company’s mission to enable everyone – from bedroom developers to advanced creatives and brands, studios and system integrators – to create, experience and share AR.” 

“World-leading brands trust us to deliver engaging and effective technology at the cutting edge of AR design. Our Studio crafts award-winning experiences covering various industries from eCommerce, marketing and advertising to tourism and educational backgrounds. Our clients include Google, PepsiCo, AT&T, OnePlus, Hulu, General Mills and P&G. “

“In addition, our SaaS tools, from the AR configurator BlippBuilder to powerful WebAR SDK, place the potential of AR in the hands of every creator.”

 

What were your inspirations for joining Blippar?

“Before joining Blippar, I had been aware of the company for some time, especially as we gave Coca-Cola customers in America early access to Spotify USA by scanning cans which triggered an AR experience. I’d long admired Blippar’s innovative approach and kept an eye on their developments, including the many world firsts in the AR and spatial computing arenas. “

“When the opportunity to take the helm of Blippar arose, whilst it was a decision I, of course, didn’t take lightly, it was also one that I couldn’t turn down.”

“Arthur C Clarke – the science fiction writer and futurist, suggested: “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This sets a high bar but is, I think, helpful in understanding the necessary conditions for growth and mass-market adoption. As an early team member at Skype, we achieved our aim of making call pricing by time and distance irrelevant and disappear. At Spotify, where I led the international business, we developed software that enables anyone, anywhere, to listen to music instantaneously. For me, Blippar is the final quadrant; just like magic, we’ve closed the gap between time distance and made music appear instantaneously…and now we’re enabling creators to build immersive, 3D, experiential content that appears in the world around, bringing it all together to entertain, enable and inform.”

Blippar is an AR platform. How important do you think AR will be in creating or facilitating the Metaverse?

“To date, the Metaverse is a limitless, undefinable phenomenon. However, we must attempt to communicate its existence to ensure it becomes a reality. I often choose to describe or imagine it as a three-dimensional internet, meaning an internet that is no longer confined to our computer screens and mobile devices. Instead, in this instance, the digital world would be all around us – not only would the Metaverse be born of AR, but the world would shift into an AR realm. For example, instead of choosing food from a paper or on-screen menu, once you sat down at a restaurant, food choices would orbit your table, and you would simply reach out and touch the 3D image you wished to order. “

“When discussing the Metaverse, I have encountered many explanations that might better be described as a “vertical” mini-verse or obscure or abstract the user from the environment around them. By doing this, the concept is limited to being an isolated digital world. However, adding AR into the equation enables the Metaverse to become interactive and connected to daily life – not a separate abstract entity that people can only access via headsets. With AR in the mix, this thinking enables the Metaverse to be a place of collaboration, socialization, connection, and ultimately one that augments day-to-day life as we know it now. “

What are you most proud of about Blippar’s services and tools?

“We have invested in building the entire AR stack from the ground up, including our web-based editor, tracking and plane detection technology to the creative studio. As such, we have a range of products and tools that can uniquely support businesses at any stage of their AR programmes/strategies”:

Blippbuilder – our no-code drag-and-drop AR creation tool for instantly creating and publishing AR experiences as if you were making a PowerPoint slide.
WebAR SDK – for developers to create more powerful experiences and publish straight to the web.
Our Studio team – consult, advise and support the creation and activation of AR experiences.”

“This means we are not tied to specific smartphones, devices, or publishers. Rather we are on the side of creators making it easier to build compelling AR experiences that “just work” and publish them to any social media, app, or website and on all devices, allowing the same content to be viewed anywhere rather than in a specific “walled garden.”

Credit: Blippar

What do you want to achieve with Blippar in the next two years? And what excites you most about the future of Blippar?

“I’m excited about what this year and the next will bring for Blippar and the whole of the XR and Metaverse ecosystem. In 2021 alone, we achieved and exceeded expectations. To note a few successes, last year, we welcomed over 100,000 creatives and developers to Blippar, doubled the size of the team, tripled revenue and worked with twice as many world-leading brands. I’m most proud of the grit, determination, and ingenuity of the whole Blippar team, who pulled together and continue to innovate and push forward to bring us to where we are today.” 

“We are excited about launching new AR glasses, like Magic Leap, Apple and Google’s new glasses that will make the AR experience “always-on” and even more immersive. Blippar was amongst the first developer platforms to support the original Google Glasses and Magic Leap devices, and we’ll enable developers to publish to any smartphone and AR glasses.”

“In many ways, we could describe today as being in the “late-innings” of Web 2.0, enabling the shift from desktop and local to mobile and cloud-based computing. In the coming years, we’ll see a more decentralized, immersive and creator-led 3D and immersive web experience. Just as in the past, WordPress enabled online content creation, the next generation of the 3D web needs a content creation platform. That’s why we built Blippar – regardless of your experience, background, or knowledge of AR, at Blippar, we invite you to create with us.”

Can you talk about some projects Blippar has worked on and how you have used AR to create new experiences? 

“Working across a wide range of industries, from eCommerce, marketing and advertising, to tourism and education, our AR experiences seamlessly bridge the physical and digital worlds, enabling deeper customer engagement, increased footfall, elevated conversion, sales and ROI. “

“Our AR experiences for brands have proven that AR delivers: 

45% higher attention levels than TV viewing or online browsing 
4x the dwell time of mobile video
90% higher engagement than equivalent non-AR experiences 
Likelihood to purchase increases by 135% after an AR experience”

“Our recently launched AR campaign for General Mills enables supporters to cheer on their Winter Olympics team digitally. All across Canada, boxes of General Mills cereals featured QR codes, allowing fans to submit digital cheers to inspire and motivate #TeamCanada. The AR experiences also feature interactive games and the chance to learn more about the athletes. “

“The AR campaign we created for 14 Hands Winery, in partnership with renowned ice hockey team Seattle Kraken, did away with QR codes. Instead, using marker tracking, we enabled users to bring the experience to life by simply scanning the can. From there, an ice hockey player runs out, and they could try face filters, discover which drink they might like best, and find out where to purchase the product. ⁠”

“We curated the world’s first LIVE AR product launch for OnePlus Nord. The 26-minute broadcast achieved 7 million views, and OnePlus Nord became the “biggest selling phone in its price segment” across Italy, Finland, France and Germany. It was the most successful phone launch ever for Amazon India. This year we began working with mobile operators, including global giants T-mobile and AT&T. As the power and draw of AR continue to grow, in 2022, we’ll help our clients reach new and uncharted territories.

Credit: Blippar

What challenges and hurdles have you had to jump over when growing Blippar. Can you explain more about them and how you overcame them?

“The saying, ‘Ahead of one’s time’, exists for a reason, and with AR initially, as with all new technologies and innovations according to Gartner’s hype cycle, there is initial excitement with inflated expectations before the market over time adopts the technology and understanding of the benefits and adoption matures. To be in the position we are today, as leaders of the AR revolution, over the last 10 years, we have had, and continue, to educate and evangelize. “

“As we are asking brands, developers and society as a whole not only to understand AR but to engage with it, create it and ultimately rely on it. We have had to acknowledge that this trust isn’t built overnight, and therefore, ten years ago, while we, and our products, are ready, the world and surrounding digital infrastructure was not. Now, as 5G becomes more widely accessible, smartphone adoption is into its second decade, AR glasses are starting to come to market, and the trending term of the Metaverse is everywhere; brands and consumers are ready and looking to engage with new technologies, AR and Blippar being at the forefront of this. “

How can our readers engage with your platform?

“We want to turn readers into creators. I encourage you – if you’ve been inspired or even slightly interested by the concept of AR creation – to head over to our website to try it out today! BlippBuilder and our WebAR SDK are free to download and use, with minimal costs only coming into effect when you go above 100 views of your projects. “

Credit: Blippar

“In addition, we are very active across our social channels; follow us via the link below to stay up to date with our latest studio projects and product releases. The News section of our website is also an excellent resource for all things AR, with thought pieces and insights by our team, alongside engaging articles on the future and potential of AR.” 

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