Interview: Omaid Hiwaizi – Global Head of Experience Strategy, Blippar

Omaid Hiwaizi

What is Blippar and how are brands using the App?

Blippar is a technology company which specializes in Augmented Reality and Computer vision. We have built an Augmented Reality ecosystem. Our technology enables people to experience the world in better ways by adding a digital layer – helping people get more out of every moment. Users use their smartphone to scan or ‘blipp’ everyday objects, brands and people, our artificial intelligence technology recognises that thing, and content is layered over the object on the screen of the phone.

Brands are using Blippar in a number of ways – from advertising storytelling to driving people to store, and helping people choose products at the shelf to enhancing events and experiences. They’re also using it for staff and consumer education – which is very powerful.

At the centre of the ecosystem is the Blippar app itself. Brands and retailers can incorporate AR into their apps using Blippar SDK and use our Computer Vision APIs in their app to recognise everyday objects. We also offer our Blippbuilder suite to agencies and creatives to enable them to create AR content, which they can publish into the Blippar system.

What is your job and what makes it exciting?

Augmented Reality is the mechanism for the digital and physical worlds to merge. Right now AR is coming of age – as the technology matures, users get a habit for AR experiences and Brands develop the use cases and applications which are productive.

My job is to work with agencies and brands to work out how our technology can achieve the outcomes that meet their objectives. The thinking is built on the thousands of campaigns we have run but is new for every scenario. We’re constantly inventing and are literally on the frontier of what’s possible!

What do you love the most about this industry?

The lack of dogma – particularly in tech. Things move so quickly that what seems impossible today is easy tomorrow. It’s also very democratic – insights come from everywhere and hierarchies are flat.

In some instances, having knowledge can be a disadvantage because if you’re not cautious conventional wisdom it limits your thinking to what’s possible now. It’s a very particular skill to be able to build on precedent and insight but also be unlimited in creativity.

What has been the highlight over the last 12 months?

Working with the Max Factor team to create “Make Up Artist in Your Pocket” – an idea which adds content to every single Max Factor product that shoppers use in the store to help them choose the right product, then again at home so they get the most out of the product when they use it. It takes the expertise which Max Factor beauty consultants are known for and makes it available to shoppers just at the moments its needed. We’ve had a lot of recognition for this, including some awards.

A second highlight is the launch of ARDP – Augmented Reality Digital Placement – a new type of digital ad unit. It takes standard digital inventory and adds AR technology. What this means is that a brand can access any audience it can reach through digital ads, and then engage that audience using AR experiences. So far we’re seeing a significant uplift in both click through rates and length and depth of engagement.

The biggest highlight has been to see AR starting to cross over into the mainstream. It means we’re winning.

What’s on the horizon for you and Blippar?

Democratising AR for users, creatives and brands – putting tools in the hands of everyone so they can make the most of the emerging opportunities.

For people to get more out of the world, delivering digital content on physical objects and in places. For creatives to unlock amazing ideas which exist in the space between on and offline. For Brands in developing exciting new ways for them to grow – by helping more people discover the brand, buy it and use it most effectively and enjoyably.

Think about AR as a new internet – an internet on things – and our flagship app is the Visual Browser used to access it – enhancing life for everyone.

Are there any brands you would love to work with? Why?

My favourite brands to work with are FMCG, Retailers and Quick Service Restaurants. We’ve done a lot of work in the Shopper Marketing and Retail space and shown how AR has a natural home there. The more we do, the more we’ll enhance shopping and retail environments. A win for the shopper, brands and the retailers.

Who do you find inspirational and why?

Sir Isaac Newton – who’s curiosity about nature led him to invent huge swathes of mathematics, physics and engineering inadvertently. If he’d been dogmatic he’d have achieved nothing. His ideas framed how see the world. What’s really cool is those ideas are being challenged by others, constantly seeking new realities.


See below for Omaid’s talk at TugLife

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