Gear | June 14, 2016 9:00 am

A Barcode Scanner for Planet Earth, Basically

New smartphone app Blippar is Wikipedia meets Shazam

The best thing about the internet is not porn, @Seinfeld2000 or cat videos.

It’s the fact that it can deliver you detailed information on any subject imaginable in about 2.5 seconds, connection speed permitting.

What if the real life worked the same way? A new app called Blippar wants to achieve just that by delivering you useful context on the world around you at the point-and-click of your smartphone.

What is it?
Dubbed a “visual browser” app, Blippar gives you a detailed description of any object by simply focusing your smartphone on it — and then offers up some contextual relationships. Basically, in this “Blipparsphere,” a web of related topics will appear around the object you originally searched, giving you some additional useful or actionable info. An example from their site: Say you point your camera toward an orange. Blippar will show locations of nearby grocers, nutritional information and top-rated recipes.

How does it work?
Blippar’s technology analyzes the visual characteristics of an image to figure out what it is. The database is constantly learning, and with every user, its catalogue of knowledge grows. Blippar also adjusts to the individual, so the suggested topics in the Blipparsphere are unique to every user.

How big is it?
The London startup rather ambitiously claims their app could be “bigger than the internet itself.”

Is it worth it?
If you’ve ever bit into an apple and wondered what genus of plants it comes from (it’s malus, by the way), then Blippar is the app for you. Essentially, Blippar shortcuts search engines by eliminating any need for those pesky “word” things.

So, why?
It’s free. And it’s fun. And if the database does grow like they say it will, it could be good for identifying, well, anything. It might also prove useful if you’re stuck in an unfamiliar area.

Plus, it’s free.

So see for yourself.