Pokémon Go developer Niantic announced the acquisition of augmented reality startup 6D.ai, a company that focuses on software that can build a 3D map of one’s surroundings with a smartphone camera. Niantic says the deal will help them create “new kinds of planet-scale AR experiences.”
Niantic is currently valued at $4 billion, thanks in part to the continued success of Pokémon Go. Analytics firm SensorTower estimated that mobile game generated $900 million in revenue in 2019.
Niantic: future of augmented reality
However, that valuation is really about Niantic’s more ambitious goal of building the future of AR. They are working on an AR platform to compete with juggernauts like Facebook and Apple. The acquisition of 6D.ai is a big step towards that goal.
John Hanke, CEO at Niantic commented in a blog post:
From the beginning, we set out to infuse our daily lives and routines with a bit of fun and adventure by building an augmented world that parallels the physical. This bold pursuit requires significant advancements in AR technology that can only be made possible with an accurate and constantly updated 3D map of the real world.
Now, we’ll be able to leverage 6D.ai’s deep expertise and significant breakthroughs in AR research and engineering to further our ongoing work in support of our mission.
Founded in 2017, 6D.ai spun out of Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab. The company developed computer vision-based technologies and developer tools to solve fundamental AR problems. Up until this point, the company had mainly focused on enterprise uses for their technology.
Hanke believes we’ve only just scratched the surface on the potential of AR. He hopes that his company’s platform can help developers bring their AR visions to life. “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,” Hanke added.
While mobile revenues are soaring, AR adoption is lagging. If Niantic can empower developers to create unique and superior AR experiences, the category could start growing rapidly.
Following the acquisition, the majority of the 6D.ai staff will be joining Niantic. Co-founder Victor Prisacariu will be joining Niantic’s Research Group in London, while CEO Matt Miesnieks will take on an advisory role.