IMMERSIVE

There’s an App for Making your own AR Experiences

2017 is the year tech will change the way we interact with the world around us. Augmented reality is the emerging tech that’s slowly disrupting our lives. Perhaps you spent a good chunk of last year running around after Pokemon IRL? Or sent a Snap of you with an adorable pair of dog ears to your nearest and dearest on Snapchat? Then you’ve experienced the power of augmented reality for yourself. And there’s an exciting British startup bringing AR to the palms of the people.

Zappar is the app that’s giving you the power of augmented reality via something you can’t live without – your smartphone.

What actually is AR?

Although the two are often mistaken, AR is something completely different from its so-called “cousin” virtual reality. Reality of the virtual kind aims to reconstruct reality itself – creating a world you can enter and explore. Augmented reality enhances the real world, layering information over what’s “real.” And augmented reality through Zappar is making it quick and easy to create your own “Zaps” – the company’s term for AR experiences.

Born in 2011 as the brainchild of four founders with a big ambition and some great technology, Zappar creates custom AR experiences for brands, and also gives the power over to you to create experiences for yourself. A feat of technology, Dr. Simon Taylor and Connell Gauld had already done the heavy lifting in terms of the algorithm and platform at the core of the Zappar proposition during their time at the University of Cambridge. CEO Caspar Thykier and Kirk Ewing came on board with their experience in business development, marketing and licensing, and so the app came to be. Today, Zappar has worked with some of the world’s biggest names, creating immersive experiences with huge global reach.

At just six years old, Zappar is still a relatively new business. However, CEO and co-founder Caspar Thykier told Mashable that “AR years are a lot like dog years, so in fact we’re practically part of the furniture in our field!” There’s a vibrant future ahead for companies at the forefront of the tech.

Having built their fully-owned tech-stack from the ground up, the team is constantly pioneering and pushing what’s possible in the field of reality both augmented and virtual for the mass market – keeping their proposition young and fresh. Thykier lamented that “the market is really coming towards us in terms of the development of better hardware, better cameras, processors and batteries all at more affordable prices across the world” – giving a glimpse of what the future of this tech could hold. The team is ready for the future too: “As a software-as-a-service platform, we’ve built scalability into our proposition, ready for the next generation of developers who are beginning to experiment with this new creative canvas.”

Along with their custom AR experience service, the team at Zappar also offer the ZapWorks tool, which allows anyone anywhere to create their very own augmented, virtual or mixed reality experience. The tools are designed to allow anyone from a classroom of young children to experienced developers to bring their world to life in new and exciting ways — opening up a completely new way for us to learn and experiment with tech.

The team is entering the brave new world of mixed reality too. Inspired by Google Cardboard and drawing influence from Microsoft HoloLens, Zappar have created ZapBox – a futuristic gadget that allows you to create and experience a mix of virtual and augmented reality on a budget. At just $30 – around £25 today – the ZapBox idea has hit double its target on Kickstarter, so we’ll be likely to see a lot more of what mixed reality could look like very soon. Whichever version of reality you opt for though – Zappar are in it.

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