“The Zapcode is a QR code on steroids,” explains Caspar Thykier as part of an interview for the Workspace Business Insight Programme. It means that if you are a brand that relies on products or packaging, “passive print can be turned into a multi-media channel which you then control. That messaging can change over time and be appropriate to the individual.”
The augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality app technology provider was founded in 2011 and sprung out of the University of Cambridge, where Simon Taylor and Connell Gauld were both alumni of the engineering department. Simply put, Zappar is a free to download AR app. This means, that using the camera on your mobile, viewers will be able to see virtual content through their screen so that it looks like it's really there in the physical world around you.”
They’ve worked for brands like Sony, Coca Cola, Hasbro and Warner Bros. For Manchester City Football Club, Zappar created an experience which allowed fans to access statistics about matches and players, and even take a virtual selfie with a footballer of their choice. It’s about engagement rather than reach and, Caspar says, “deepening your relationship with the club and players.”
The company creates its AR solutions with brands in mind. “We always had a view,” Caspar explains, “that we wanted to take this technology that's been around for a very long time – and has been an amazing solution desperately searching for a problem to solve – and make it more mass market.” They’ve done this by allowing brands and businesses to capture the value in this technology for their end users.”
In February, the team completed a Series A funding round raising $3.75M through connections from Cambridge University. “They helped us put together this first round and bring in some institutional and strategic investors. We were able to go to the market when we weren't desperate for the cash but could see it would accelerate growth.” As part of this growth, they’ve expanded their presence in the USA and are now setting their sights on China.
As part of their mission to “democratise AR” and make it “scalable, simple, affordable and robust to everyone”, the team, based in Chiswick, at the Barley Mow business centre, also works on their software as a service model for companies and brands that want to build their own solutions using Zappar technology called ZapWorks.
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