Facebook Just Bought An AR Startup That’s Building A 3D Map Of The Entire World

Facebook purchases AR startup Scape Technologies for a reported $40M.

The future of Facebook appears to be centered around VR and AR. During Oculus Connect 6, the company announced Facebook Horizon, a social VR world where you can literally step into a virtual version of your Facebook page. The company also confirmed the long-rumored development of its own dedicated AR glasses.

In addition to hardware, Facebook has purchased the UK AR startup Scape Technologies, a 3D mapping company that is creating a full 1:1 scale digital version of the real world using a visual-positioning system they call “vision engine” in the hopes of providing centimeter-level location recognition.

They have literally created a digital version of the real world.

According to Techcrunch, the purchase cost an estimated $40 million, though Facebook still hasn’t actually revealed what they plan on doing with Scape’s “vision engine”. The tech could prove essential in Facebook’s pursuit of social AR, allowing users to access 3D maps using via their smartphone’s camera or—perhaps one day—using Facebook’s highly-anticipated AR glasses.

This could potentially open up multiple doors for users of Facebook and Instagram in terms of interactivity and could even be a huge engagement tool for businesses, schools, and the entertainment industry.

There is no real clear picture of what Facebook will do with their new acquisition. It might be the simple matter of a company buying technology just for the sake of owning it.  A spokesperson for Facebook told Techcrunch, “We acquire smaller tech companies from time to time. We don’t always discuss our plans.”

What this does show, however, is that Facebook is actively looking at AR technology and is preparing for what it thinks could be the next phase of not only social media, but communication, business, and entertainment as well. Instagram’s Spark AR Studio has become incredibly popular over the last few months thanks to a growing catalog of amazing AR face filters; on top of that, the company has already been dabbling with AR shopping in the app’s newsfeed for the last couple of years.

If you do a quick search on the Facebook career page, you’ll see that the company is seeking AR experts to fill multiple roles across the globe in order to help the social media company utilize AR in a way that users will find useful and enjoy.

It’s obvious Facebook is stepping up their commitment to a technology they see as the future of digital interactivity.

Image Credit: Scape Technologies

Bobby Carlton: Hello, my name is Bobby Carlton. When I'm not exploring the world of immersive technology, I'm writing rock songs about lost love. I'd also like to mention that I can do 25 push-ups in a row.
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