Technology

6D.ai is Building a 3D Map of the World

Based in San Francisco, CA, and Oxford, UK, 6D.ai is using smartphones and HMDs to crowdsource a 3D map that will be used in future mobile apps.

29.08.2019 | by Reve Fisher
Photo by the New York Public Library
Photo by the New York Public Library

By using smartphone cameras and head-mounted displays (HMDs) to crowdsource real-time spatial recognition, augmented reality startup 6D.ai is looking to create a 3D map of the earth.

The company is combining the latest developments in computer vision, neural networks and artificial intelligence to build this platform.

Ultimately, the 3D mesh generated by 6D.ai’s technology will help developers design world-scale apps that sync more efficiently among users, respond to occlusion and have persistent assets, according to Tech Startups.

The company launched its beta platform in October 2018 and is now ready to let developers build apps using the map platform. Subscription rates range from a free tier to $20-$50 per app, a figure based on the number of map downloads that users need. According to TechCrunch, custom pricing will be available for those who need over 50,000 map downloads.

While the programme was previously limited to iOS devices, 6D.ai has recently launched a beta Android platform.

“The 3D model of the world is the next platform all apps will run on,” said 6D.ai co-founder and CEO Matt Miesnieks in a statement. “We are seeing this happen today with businesses of all sizes across a variety of industries looking to build spatially aware applications that go beyond AR to scanning, location-based services and in the future, drones and robotics.”

The startup has also recently launched a partnership with with semiconductor and telecommunications equipment corporation, Qualcomm Technologies. Through the collaboration, the startup’s technology is going to be used to provide spatial understanding for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon-powered XR (extended reality) HMDs and XR viewers, which are designed to connect to smartphones through the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platform.

“XR, powered by AI and 5G, has the potential to define the next generation of immersive mobile computing,” explained Hugo Swart, senior director of product management and head of XR, Qualcomm Technologies. “6D is strengthening today’s experiences by building world maps to help lay the foundation for a future where XR devices fully understand the real world to enable developers creating next generation applications that can recognize, interpret, and interact with the world we live in.”

Qualcomm Technologies and 6D.ai will also work together to optimise the startup’s reality platform; ultimately, such advanced computer vision and AI processing will enable developers and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to create immersive apps with realistic XR experiences, blurring the line between the real world and the virtual world.

Founded in November 2017, 6D.ai emerged out of Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab. The startup is led by Matt Miesnieks and Prof. Victor Prisacariu; with General Catalyst managing director Niko Bonatsos as a board member, the company has raised investments from General Catalyst, Shasta Ventures, Floodgate Partners and angel investors in the augmented reality and virtual reality sectors.

“Today’s roll out of our business model and cooperation with Qualcomm Technologies are the first of many steps we are taking toward building this 3D map of the world,” Miesnieks said.

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