As car enthusiasts, we can’t count the number of times someone has shown us a photo of a car they saw but couldn’t identify. It makes us feel useful to be able to share our knowledge, but the latest version of the Blippar smartphone app might render our knowledge redundant.
Developed by the tech company of the same name, UK-based Blippar launched in 2011 with an app that uses augmented reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) to help users identify all kinds of objects by snapping a photo – known as “blipping” – with a smartphone.
Blippar’s latest addition is the ability to identify any car built since 2000, whether you see it on the street or in a magazine or video.
The company says doing so will unlock an augmented reality experience that reveals information like pricing, customer ratings, and a 360-degree view of the car’s interior.
Blippar says its tech is based on a “generic horizontal recognition engine that can identify most things in the world at a generic level.” Late last year, it added a facial recognition function, followed by its recent car-ident feature.
While identifying a person’s face seems quite different on the surface from putting make and model to a given car, the two are actually quite similar, even from a layman’s point of view: just as babies learn to tell their parents apart from other people, anyone with enough interest can learn to tell Civic from Corolla or Jeep from G-Wagen if they pay attention.
In Blippar’s case, the app uses “deeply learning computer vision algorithms” to display an “organic augmented visual layer” that (we think) picks out the styling traits that differentiate any given vehicle from others of a similar size and shape.
In the US (only, for now) Blippar says its app can use augmented reality to help you in the search for your next car, or simply to satisfy a curiosity.
It all sounds kind of fun, but for Blippar, this is a potential money-maker, as it says it designed the technology to be integrated into other apps conceived to direct traffic to car dealers, help buyers find used cars, or present “targeted” offers or content to shoppers.