London-based Blippar uses augmented reality (AR) technology and computer vision to let users discover information about everyday items using their phone cameras
Augmented reality and computer vision startup Blippar has raised $54 million for its series D round, it announced Wednesday. The round was led by Malaysia’s strategic investment fund, Khazanah Nasional Berhad (KNB). Blippar’s existing investors also participated.
London-based Blippar uses augmented reality (AR) technology and computer vision to let users discover information about everyday items using their phone cameras. Users can snap a movie poster and get information about the movie depicted, or take a picture of an apple and find recipes for apple pie. It’s working with the who’s who of brands like Kraft, Disney, and Universal Pictures, and has a global user base of 65 million with 14 offices around the world.
The funding is expected to give the company a runway of 18 to 24 months. In that time, Blippar wants to further develop its technology, adding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to the platform, although it doesn’t go into further details on that. However, user acquisition will be important in order to boost “habitual behavior,” or insights into how and why people use the platform.
The startup’s expansion into Asia is a major part of this investment, as KNB’s participation suggests. Blippar opened its Singapore office in September 2015, and it’s had offices in India and Japan for 18 months now.
“We’ve always been careful about the investors we choose, that they add long-term strategic value,” Richard Biggs, Blippar’s growth lead for Asia-Pacific, tells Tech in Asia. “Someone like [KNB] has a long-term view both on investing money and encouraging development in the region.”
Singapore will serve as the company’s hub for Asia. “Putting ourselves here will allow us to extend our reach to a lot of larger customers and to support our other offices [in Asia],” Richard says.
He adds that 90 percent of Blippar’s global clients, which include Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and more, have a presence in Singapore, so Blippar will be able to continue serving those clients in this region too. Singapore’s position as a tech and research and development hub is an additional incentive, giving Blippar easier access to the region’s fast-developing nations, he explains.
As part of the company’s growth in the region, it has just launched its education component, which involves enabling “interactive visual experiences” in classrooms. More details on that will be revealed in the coming months, Richard says. In that respect, the startup wants to grow the education team at its Singapore office, while also adding to other key operational parts of its business, like marketing and business development.
Including this round, Blippar has so far raised a disclosed total of $99 million. While the company wouldn’t reveal many details about its growth so far, Richard says that every client it has in other markets is also on board in Asia. Blippar has strong expectations from Asia in the second half of 2016, as it’s set to be the company’s biggest market, Richard explains.
Editing by Paloma Ganguly and Terence Lee
This post was originally published on Tech in Asia.