Snapchat Acquires 3D Mapping Firm Pixel8Earth to Broaden AR Capabilities


Following the latest earnings report, which saw strong growth in both users and sales, Snapchat is now looking to maximize its investment in the next level of interactivity by acquiring the Pixel8Earth 3D mapping platform, which will provide new capacity for Snaps advancement of AR skills.

Pixel8earth is a “crowdsourced and constantly updated map” that combines both terrestrial and aerial data in a single model, making it easier to create spatial 3D overlaying of landscapes and structures

As you can see in this example, after capturing a number of video inputs, the Pixel8Earth system can merge the different feeds into a single card.

This video provides a better overview of the application to external structures.

The tool essentially uses digital video content captured from multiple sources to create more complete perspectives of real scenes. With that as a foundation, Snapchat can not only make it easy to expand the Pixel8Earth project through the camera in its own app, but it can also use that mapping to expand its AR tools like the evolving digital art installations and their Landmarker Lenses.

This new form of digital interactivity, which only exists in Snapchat’s own AR area, already offers Snapchatters new, powerful options for interaction within the app.

Take Snapchat, for example City Painter collaborative AR project now active on Carnaby Street in London.

As you can see in the video, the project essentially allows users to interact with an AR overlay of a real-world location. Users can virtually paint whatever they want over the shops and streets, and each person’s contribution will then be visible to any other Snapchatter who visits the location.

So far, Snapchat has only launched one City Painter activation as it requires significant, detailed location mapping to function effectively. However, the acquisition of Pixel8Earth could significantly expand its capacity in this area, which could literally open up a whole new world of interactive experiences for users of the app.

Of course, Snapchat likely has other plans in store for these advanced mapping tools as well, including additional AR apps, interactive tools (like digital cartoons that are responsive to the environment and only visible through the snap camera), and possibly more data built into its evolving Spectacles AR project.

Snapchat has not yet officially confirmed that it is developing a new, AR-enabled variant of its Spectacles smart glasses, but insiders have reported that work on the project is well advanced, at least in terms of testing early prototypes with development partners.

With the help of 3D mapping, Snap could provide more accurate overlays for his later AR view, which could make Snap’s AR glasses more functional and useful in a wider range of situations.

We’ll have to wait and see where Snap goes with this, but it’s another acquisition for the growing app as it continues to move towards the next level of digital interactivity.

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