Niantic, the company behind the world-scale mobile AR games Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, is acquiring 3D spatial mapping company 6D.ai.
According to Niantic CEO and Founder John Hanke, the acquisition will allow Niantic to “leverage 6D.ai’s deep expertise and significant breakthroughs in AR research and engineering” and see them build a “dynamic, 3D map of the world so we can enable new kinds of planet-scale AR experiences.”
6d.ai was founded in 2017, with the intention to solve current fundamental problems with AR technology. According to 6d.ai’s site, its platform offers a few features. The technology can offer ‘world-scale content persistence’ which allows digital AR content to stay in the same place between sessions, while also allowing others to access that content from a different device.
One of my main criticisms of the world-scale AR game Minecraft Earth was that AR creations could not be placed in a real world location by one user and found in the same location by another user on a different device, at a later point in time. There was no real world persistence with AR creations. 6d.ai’s technology offers a platform that would allow for this kind of content synchronization between users across different times and sessions.
6d.ai also offers real-time meshing of environments, which “allows digital objects to be occluded by and interact with the complexity of the world.” The platform also offers real-time spatial awareness using built-in phone cameras to “build a real-time, three-dimensional semantic, crowd sourced map of the world, all in the background.”
If all of these features work well and are easy to integrate, then 6d.ai could offer a wealth of expansion and depth to Niantic’s current and future mobile AR offerings. Hanke offered some potent examples. “Imagine everyone, at the same time, being able to experience Pokémon habitats in the real world or watch dragons fly through the sky and land on buildings in real-time. Imagine our favorite characters taking us on a walking tour of hidden city gems, or friends leaving personal notes for others to find later.”