Niantic Acquires 3D Mapping Platform, Wants To Make “Planet-Scale AR Experiences”

Niantic is aiming to go full 3D after acquiring spatial mapping leader 6D.ai.

Right now, Pokémon GO is a 2D augmented reality game. Capturing Pokémon involves walking up within a few dozen feet (or a couple of meters) of the ‘Mon in question before you can start throwing balls at it. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a skyscraper or underground so long as you are horizontally close enough.

But what if Niantic had the technology to make it so you also had to be close enough in the vertical space to start capturing Pokémon? That seems to be on Niantic’s radar as they recently announced their acquisition of 6D.ai, an augmented reality company that specializes in “3D reconstruction and AR persistence.”

An offshoot from Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab, 6D.ai has made “significant breakthroughs” in AR research. Niantic hopes to use 6D.ai’s technology to build an “accurate and constantly updated 3D map of the real world” in order to “enable new kinds of planet-scale AR experiences.”

Someday, it might not be enough to just walk into the same general radius as a Pokémon. You might have to go above or underground in order to capture that Flying or Ground-type ‘Mon, or even go underwater to find a Water-type.

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