Blinkl founders: Michaël Merlange Vincent Marin and Gwen Le Villoux.
Nantes-based startup Blinkl is the first augmented reality platform for use in communication and retail that doesn’t require an application.
With such a glut of messages surrounding us, how can you make your information stand out? That was the question for Michaël Merlange, Gwen le Villoux and Vincent Marin, the three founders of Quai des Apps, a company developing augmented reality applications that include Blinkl. The solution? Augmented reality as a communication tool to tell more engaging and creative stories. The method? Most importantly, it’s not an application (always expensive, slow to develop and less and less attractive to users) but an online platform to create augmented reality experiences directly on the web!
“Blinkl is an augmented reality button that you can access on the mobile website”, explains Vincent Marin. “The idea is that you snap a photo of the image that you want to augment using your smartphone – packaging, brochures, posters, flyers, magazines and so on – to access an array of digital content: videos, photos, games, sound files, 3D animations.” It’s a fast, simple and flexible tool.
From Quai des Apps to Blinkl
Michaël Merlange (graduate of the Ecole Polytechnic engineering school, specialised in technical development), Gwen le Villoux (artist, musician and graphic designer) and Vincent Marin (professor of astrophysics at Nantes University) created Quai des Apps in February 2015. Augmented reality, image recognition and virtual reality are the cornerstones of the company. In the summer of 2017, Quai des Apps released Blinkl, with one goal in mind: to become a heavyweight in the augmented reality sector.
Retail, the press and communication agencies
Today Blinkl has its sights set on 3 segments: retail, the press and communication agencies in the events industry. In terms of retail, Blinkl offers a way to scan products in the store and in catalogues to create original and engaging customer pathways and gain a deeper understanding of customer preferences. “We just overcame a challenge with Super U”, says Marin. “Blinkl is used in their stores to scan products and catalogues. The customer could, for example, check that what they plan to buy suits their dietary requirements. All of the information and recommendations that augmented reality provides to consumers will bolster their confidence in the brand.”
More than a technological innovation, it’s about telling stories
Make Blinkl a tool of creative expression, in any sphere. That is the goal of the startup’s three founders, all of whom are passionate about photography and art. “Our first experience was at the La Gacilly photography festival in 2014, even before we created the company”, recalls Marin. “We wanted to tell the hidden stories behind Nick Brandt’s photographs. The idea was to draw the public’s attention to the environmental catastrophe occurring in Africa, where poaching is destroying wildlife.” Armed with a smartphone, the public could scan the exhibition’s photos and find out more about the Big Life Foundation’s anti-poaching actions in Africa.
With Blinkl, each experience is richer and more engaging. “Telling a story is a means of creating value”, adds Marin. “The more someone feels involved in something, the more likely they are to become attached to the brand.”
So now what?
2018 will be dedicated to marketing the solution to retailers, the press and communication agencies, but will also be about building a genuine image for the brand.
A partnership has been formed with Altavia Group, which has a keen interest in the first augmented reality platform without an app.
In 2019, the three founders will be launching a Blinkl platform for the general public that will allow people to create and manage augmented media on their own.