Innovation | Augmenting Reality

Douglas MacMillan


Form and function

Subscription-based software that creates augmented reality, a complex layer of computer-generated graphics and information projected over an image by a viewer’s mobile device.

Innovator Brian Mullins

Age 38

Title CEO of Daqri, a three-year-old startup based in Los Angeles

1. Speed reading Users point their device at a page or poster and watch annotations pop up as an image goes 3D or becomes a video within a few seconds. Moving the device rotates the image.

2. Memory modeling Daqri’s 3D imaging relies on computer vision, software that scans an object’s lines and shading through a mobile device’s camera and matches it to a stored database image.

Business model For $50 to $500 a month, app makers and other companies can use Daqri’s software to design images and videos instead of starting from scratch. The company can do the work, but the cost could climb into the five- or six-figure range.

Demos A Daqri-augmented Lego catalog features a Grand Prix race car that drives off the page. Mullins’s periodic-table demo lets users combine elements and see how they’d react.

Improvements As its database grows, the company hopes its software will be able to augment images it hasn’t been pre-programmed to recognize.

Next Steps

Daqri’s early clients included Sony and 20th Century Fox. Mullins received $15 million in venture capital, led by Tarsadia Investments, in May. Alan Craig, a human-computer interaction research scientist at the University of Illinois, says Daqri will be more useful when combined with wearable computers such as Google Glass. “When you’re driving a car down the road,” he says, “you don’t want to be looking at a billboard through your phone.”


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