AR creation tool Blippar has long offered its creation tool Blippbuilder, which recently implemented a “freemium” pricing model. Naturally, the tool was built around smartphones, which is how most people still experience AR. However, with the increasing prevalence of AR-enabled headsets, the company is expanding the tool’s availability.
To learn more about Blippbuilder on headsets, the company’s long-term strategy, and the effects of other Blippar developments, ARPost met the company’s new CEO, Preet Prasannan.
Meet New CEO Preet Prasannan
Prasannan is Blippar’s new CEO, but he isn’t new to the company. Prasannan discovered Blippar almost ten years ago when he was working at DreamWorks when his manager left DreamWorks to work at Blippar.
“At the time, I got very excited about what Blippar was doing in AR,” said Prasannan. “To be honest, I didn’t even know what AR was.”
Prasannan worked at Blippar for a time before leaving to found his own startup. He was still working on that project when Blippar came into problems and ultimately entered into administration. Prasannan returned to Blippar and was instrumental in its return as “Blippar 2.0” by serving as the Chief Technical Officer.
“Blippar was like family to me, so I reached out, we started speaking,” said Prasannan. “I realized that there was an opportunity to bring Blippar back to life.”
Prasannan was the CTO throughout the tenure of CEO Faisal Galaria, who recently stepped down. This offered another opportunity for Prasannan to step up.
“In December, when Faisal decided to part ways with us, we decided it would be good if I was up for it,” said Prasannan. “This is my family.”
Blippbuilder Comes to Next-Gen Hardware
The first big move under Prasannan’s leadership is bringing Blippbuilder compatibility to AR glasses. While AR on a head-mounted display and AR on a handheld display might sound similar, there were some initial hurdles.
“To be frank, it was a bit of heavy lifting when we started on headsets. The first one,” said Prasannan. “The first headset that we supported took us six months and the next headset that we supported took us 48 hours.”
The first two headsets were Magic Leap and Meta Quest Pro. While some things are being ironed out before the next selection of compatible AR headsets is released, Prasannan says that the company can essentially achieve compatibility with new headsets as fast as they are produced. Which is good, they are being produced a lot more regularly these days.
“For the next generation of AR, we have to have devices that feel natural,” said Prasannan. “It becomes a natural way of seeing and visualizing AR content.”
This isn’t just a way of future-proofing Blippar. It’s also a way to advance AR as a field worth buying into.
“If you have amazing, exciting content and a tool that creates content easily, why would you not want to buy that headset?” asked Prasannan.
A Growing Ecosystem
The announcement is exciting in another way as well: the sort of experiences that are created using Blippbuilder, particularly since it became free to use. The move has also been positive for Blippar, of course.
“We had tens of thousands of users more than usual joining us,” said Prasannan. “It seems like we took the right step when we went in that direction.”
So, who are all of those new users? Naturally, they don’t all fit into one basket, but Prasannan said that there have been a lot of educational experiences created.
“We saw a very interesting solar system being created by one of our users,” said Prasannan. “I was actually showing it to the kids in my family and the feedback was immediate.”
There has been a long-standing chasm in the promising field of educational XR. The sum is that educators don’t typically know how to build experiences and experience builders don’t typically know how to educate. Blippbuilder’s free, no-code, increasingly versatile authoring tool is helping to bridge that gap.
“One of the driving factors of switching to the freemium model was to encourage creativity in all of our users,” said Prasannan. “Right now, Blippbuilder is free so anyone can create an account and publish projects.”
More to Come From Blippar
There are more big things coming from Blippar, as a “new iteration of Blippbuilder” is scheduled to release as a beta toward the end of Q1 of this year. The tool will “make developers and technologists out of anyone who wants to” because “technology should make things more simple, not more complicated.”