19. Blippar

Virtual reality app to overhaul search

Ambarish Mitra, co-founder and chief executive officer of Blippar
David Maung | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Ambarish Mitra, co-founder and chief executive officer of Blippar

Founders: Ambarish Mitra, Omar Tayeb, Jess Butcher, Steve Spencer
Date launched: 2011
Funding: $17 million*
Industries disrupted: Visual recognition, digital, mobile

The description of Blippar on its home page sounds like something out of "Minority Report," the spookily futuristic Tom Cruise movie set in 2054. On its website, Blippar says, "We turn your phone into a magic lens, giving you a whole new, interactive view on the physical world around you using Augmented Reality and Image-Recognition technologies."


In plain English that means right now Blippar is mainly an advertising vehicle that allows a brand to bring its product to life through the free Blippar app. Once a consumer downloads the app, he or she can point a smartphone at a participating product—Procter & Gamble, Heinz, Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch are just some of its clients—and get additional information, games, photos and interactive content.

For years marketers have used QR (quick response) codes on products to give consumers more information, but Blippar takes that ability to the next level with richer, more interactive content. The London-based company claims that there has been 50 million downloads of the Blippar app spanning 150 countries. That kind of volume has gotten the attention of Qualcomm, Intel Capital and Sunstone, who together have invested $17 million in the company to date.

"It’s very much based on the philosophy that we as people are not able to describe everything we are looking at, so the search engine with words is not the answer to all forms of curiosity that you have." -Ambarish Mitra, co-founder and CEO

*Update: Blippar raised another $45 million in a March round of financing, after the CNBC Distruptor List nominations that included funding information had already been submitted by companies.

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