The concept of Metaverse, also called AR cloud, where a digital twin of the real world filled with virtual content is permanently entrenched for all to see, has been a futurists’ sci-fi dream for years and a goal for most. technology companies that are serious about AR.
It appears Snapchat’s parent company Snap shares those ambitions.
This week, 3D mapping startup Pixel8.Earth confirmed that Snap has acquired the company. An SEC filing for Snap’s quarterly earnings report found the deal value to be $ 6.7 million.
“When Pramukta (Kumar), Winnie (Palangpour), Chris (Helm) and I started Pixel8.Earth, we wanted to map the world in 3D and a few months ago we got a great boost towards that goal. The Pixel8 .earth team has joined Snap Inc. We are thrilled to be part of Snap’s Map and AR teams that help them bring computing across the globe, ”Sean Gorman, Pixel8.Earth CEO , in a blog post.
Like Pokémon GO maker Niantic’s Real World and Ubiquity6’s Display.land, the startup’s platform uses crowdsourced data.
While Niantic relies on players of its games to scan landmarks with their mobile devices and Ubiquity6 collects 3D models from its maker community, Pixel8.Earth uses 360 photos taken by GoPro, Insta360, and mobile devices along with aerial imagery from drones to create 3D maps. out of the world. Using photogrammetry, the system assembles 3D models of point clouds, with each pixel anchored in latitude, longitude and height.
“Ambitious goals require resources and lots of smart people. We couldn’t be happier to join such a fantastic team of friends old and new. There’s a lot of work to be done. Stay tuned as we embark on a new journey are starting to bring the new generation of computing experiences to the world, ”said Gorman.
While working with Snap gives the team an influx of capital, Pixel8.Earth is adding an AR cloud component to Snapchat, which already has a Snap Map and a robust AR platform. The company has already applied crowdsourcing to enable its Landmarker Targets feature, which uses photos and video of buildings and landmarks captured by its users to construct 3D targets for AR effects that interact with the landmarks. A 3-D map would allow Snap to not only expand available Landmarker goals, but also add lasting content, perhaps with submissions from the community.
The AR cloud space is heating up, with Epic Games recently raising $ 1 billion in funding from investors to develop its own vision of the Metaverse. Snap rival Facebook is developing its own AR cloud called Live Maps. Magic Leap also has its own AR cloud plans, framed as the “Magicverse” (although those plans may be on the back burner due to the shift to enterprise customers).
Meanwhile, Apple and Google have also implemented tools to enable AR cloud properties in mobile apps through their respective ARKit and ARCore toolkits, with Microsoft also offering its own Azure Spatial Anchors for persistent content.
Having established its leadership in AR technology, Snap’s entry into the AR cloud space is a welcome development. And it looks like Snap isn’t finished with its spending either, as the company is announcing a $ 1 billion offering of senior convertible bonds to fund “general corporate purposes”, including capital expenditures.