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Self-Service AR Tools: The Future of Publishing?

Hold tight, fans of hard-copy magazines and newspapers. Augmented reality could save the industry yet.

Blippar, a mobile image-recognition and interactive mobile platform for publishers, brands and advertisers, announced the launch of Blippbuilder this week at the 39th FIPP World Magazine Congress. The self-service, augmented reality creation platform for publishers will enable the instantaneous conversion of any editorial material -- images or articles -- into interactive digital experiences. It will also add a new dimension of engagement to paid advertising, creating a more robust revenue stream and providing added value to readers.

Blippbuilder's simple drag-and-drop interface, powered by Blippar's industry leading technology, will allow publishers to bring their magazines and newspapers to life in three simple steps -- just upload an image, activate the content and publish. The launch of this tool will offer readers "blippable" experiences from cover to cover by complementing the existing campaigns that Blippar has created for brands and retailers that advertise in print publications.

As publishers and media owners continue to explore new ways to innovate in an increasingly digital age, Blippbuilder allows for the seamless integration of the physical and digital worlds by adding compelling, interactive digital content on top of static images and text. Of course, Blippbuilder also gives publishers access to an analytical dashboard with data designed to easily track and measure the success of each editorial and advertising campaign.

Blippbuilder's features include:

  • Peel-away functionality for off-the-page interactive experiences
  • Virtual photobooth -- ie. in-app image capturing and photo sharing fun
  • Social media integration across all major social networks
  • M-commerce optimization -- ie. blipp-to-buy solutions
  • Real time polling and voting 
  • Data capturing and other subscription recruitment campaigns.

"Since publishers know their readers better than anyone else, we believe it is important to place Blippbuilder directly in their hands," said Ambarish Mitra, CEO and Co-Founder of Blippar. "The addition of augmented reality to the print media landscape is a natural evolution of the industry. We're proud to play a founding role in merging the print and digital worlds to create a sustainable option for publishers worldwide."

To use Blippar, readers simply download the Blippar app on their iOS, Android or BlackBerry devices, open the app then hold their device over the blippable image on the print page to bring the page to life and unlock exclusive content.

Publishers who are interested in access to Blippbuilder can sign up at



Global Smart City Market to Reach $3.3 Trillion By 2025

Malaga, SpainYour city is about to get a whole lot smarter.

According to research firm Frost and Sullivan, the “smart city” market could reach $3.3 trillion by 2025, creating countless opportunities for municipalities to tap into in infrastructure development, technology integration, and energy and security services.

Smart cities are those that unify traditionally separate facilities and departments—including police, transportation, energy, urban planning and others—in order to streamline efficiencies and maximize effectiveness.

For example, in Málaga, Spain, the city government has partnered with Spanish electric company Endesa for six major projects: 1. Intelligent Mobility—This year Malaga will host 200 electric vehicles through a joint venture with the Japanese New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) 2. Smart Energy Grids, 3. eGovernment, 4. Smart Buildings, 5. Environmental Intelligence, 6. Intelligent Services.

As the benefits and opportunities of these types of integrations become increasingly clear, more and more cities will work toward smart city status. If you live in a large metropolitan area, look for some huge changes in the coming decade that could improve your way of life, safety and opportunities for environmental sustainability.


Skype to Create the 3-D Remote Meeting?

Skype is about to take your remote meetings 3-D.

The Microsoft-owned company is working on 3-D video calling technology that will probably be released in the next few years. We’re guessing it will be especially attractive to larger companies that need to be able to realistically network and meet with remote employees and customers.

A Microsoft rep told BBC that the high availability and lower price tags of consumer-level 3-D projectors and screens have made 3-D video calls feasible for the first time. The difficulty will lie in capturing the 3-D image, since multiple cameras will need to be pointed at the client’s computer, all at precisely the right angle.

If it sounds like a lot of work, we agree. It’s possible that 3-D video conferencing won’t catch on until the set-up and use are as easy as the original Skype.


A Drone for Everyone?

These days, drones seem to be everywhere, delivering all kinds of things (like pizzas, beer, or bombs). But no one has manufactured a GPS-guided UAV that the average consumer would want to operate (and could afford to purchase). That is, until now.

3D Robotics is hoping their new drone will be simple enough for mass consumption, especially since it supports easy-to-use GPS controls through any computer, tablet or smartphone.

3D Robotics' 3DR Iris UAV costs just $729 and includes everything you need to actually utlize it: a trasmitter, battery pack, extra propellers and legs, and, of course, the unit itself. Not a bad price for a fully-functioning, ready-to-fly autonomous aerial vehicle. According to the company, the drone enables "point-and-click mission planning" using more than 100 configurable waypoints. These guide the device from take-off to landing, using a web-enabled device. It can even be easily outfitted with an on-board camera for your most important surveillance missions.

Of course, we wonder what "missions" the average consumer will get up to with a $700 drone in their hands. And yet, at the same time, we really don't want to know.


Will Robots of the Future Be Flexible?

This short, simple video is much more than it seems. It demonstrates new material created by U.S. researchers that moves in response to light. Soft and flexible, the stuff could be used one day to manufacture robots.

Today's robots are limited by their stiff, heavy components. They certainly don't move "naturally," and sometimes their range of motions and portability is limited. And, so far, they also require an onboard energy source, which adds even more weight.

So, a team at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio has created a series of cantilevers made from azobenzene liquid crystal polymer networks that can twist and coil -- and is powered only by a change in the polarity and intensity of an external light source -- all in an effort to rethink the movement of robots and make them more lifelike. One day, they may even be able to mimic animal movements, thanks to the flexible materials.

The next step for the researchers is to create more complex material that can move better and be used in larger-scale applications. Stay tuned for more.

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