Facebook Buys AR Startup Building A 1:1 Digital Map Of The Physical World

It has been reported that Facebook acquired UK augmented reality (AR) startup, Scape Technologies. It is estimated by TechCrunch that the purchase price might be about $40 million.

The reason the purchase of this AR company is because Scape’s technology is about creating a 1:1 digital representation of the physical world. It’s both about mapping AND AR. Scape wants to build an infrastructure for the next-generation of “spatial-computing devices.” This includes wearables, autonomous vehicles, as well as other devices.

Scape’s goal is to make any physical location or place capable of displaying AR content. The challenge of this feat is location precision. To get over this hurtle, Scape created 3D renderings of the World with location precision. By going down this route, the company won’t have to rely on current location technologies, such as cell-tower triangulation, GPS or reverse IP targeting. Scape believes that its visual-positioning system “provides centimeter-level location recognition at a previously unprecedented scale.”

Rendering of persistent AR in the world – Source: Scape Technologies

The creation of this AR project is partially inspired by Niantic’s Pokemon GO. Niantic was spun out of Google. John Hanke, the founder and CEO of Niantic, ran Google’s mapping and local products for years. Previously, Hanke was the CEO of Keyhole, which Google bought and was transitioned to become Google Earth.

Although Google has been working on a similar product, which is to map the entire globe digitally. Scape, however, doesn’t require the enormous resources and data processing capabilities that Google used to create Google Earth, Street View and Maps. The company points to Waze’s traffic crowdsourcing as inspiration. Scape says that it created 3D renderings or more than 100 cities globally (this was around the middle of 2019)

Scape’s big objective is to be able to triangulate precise user location anywhere in the world within centimeters. This allows for AR content to be “pinned” to a precise location, building or object.

SourceGreg Sterling

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