09.09.19

100 cities scanned to enable new AR projects

Scape AR
Image Credit: Scape

A UK company, Scape Technologies, has created 3D maps of 100 cities to enable city-wide augmented reality applications. Scape can tell where someone is standing by comparing data from a phone camera with a cloud-based, machine-readable 3D map. Its first product is a software development kit that will anchor AR content to specific locations.

Scape co-founder and CEO Edward Miller spoke to PC Mag about why he believes 3D map data is "the scaffold of the 21st century."

"Over the next few years, we're going to enter an exciting new era of so-called 'spatial computing'. This refers to a new class of computing devices that will go beyond the boundaries of the 16-by-9 screen and operate within the physical world," says Miller.

"Self-driving cars, drones, augmented reality glasses are all examples of spatial computing devices. It's a field I started working in about nine years ago, first with interactive imagery robotic camera rigs to build early 360-degree video; and it's [now] about to explode. Essentially it's a way to connect the physical and digital worlds."

Miller went on to describe how Scape is different from Google Street View. "Google built its system for humans to be able to visually identify locations, but we're creating an entirely different class of map for machines. Using Scape Technologies, devices will be able to understand, via visual features and the information stored in our server-side maps, and triangulate exactly where that device is.

"GPS has the urban canyon problem within cities where tall buildings can occlude or reflect signals to the detriment of positions. Also there's a level of inaccuracy with the phone's magnetometer (compass) due to influence from steel-structured buildings, which rotate the signal in the wrong direction.

"Collectively, we've gathered imagery data for over 100 cities and are currently processing a selective amount of that depending on our rollout schedule, R&D requirements, and financial considerations. We launched in London and San Francisco, and there are many more areas waiting to be rolled out in the coming months, including some geographical regions in Asia, where there will be some particularly exciting events next year."