Pokemon Go maker Niantic acquires 3D world-scanning software company 6D.ai

Another step towards AR headsets from a leading app-maker.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read

6D.ai's 3D meshing of environments can unite shared AR worlds.


While few actual AR headsets exist at the moment, the race to scan and map the world using AR technology is already heating up. Niantic, maker of Pokemon Go and collaborator with Qualcomm on a future AR headset design, has just acquired a company that enables collaborative AR world maps to be shared.

6D.ai is a company that specializes in building out 3D world meshes that multiple people can share and keep building on. While Apple's newest iPad uses new lidar tech hardware to better mesh and map the world through hardware, 6D.ai can do things like this without needing specialized hardware. The system creates an infrastructure that headsets or phones can share data, like a crowdsourced AR toolkit. 6D.ai has already partnered with Qualcomm, too.

"Together, we're building a dynamic, 3D map of the world so we can enable new kinds of planet-scale AR experiences," Niantic CEO John Hanke said in a statement. "This means we're even closer to an AR platform that will unlock the ability for any developer to make content for current and future AR hardware."

An example of how people can collaborate to 3D-scan a space. (Imagine this with future Pokemon Go.)


Microsoft has been exploring its own world-mapping AR through phone games like Minecraft Earth that future evolutions of HoloLens could use, while Google is building out AR through its search and Maps tools, while Facebook is aiming to map out the world, too. Magic Leap's vision of a digital mapping of reality follows a similar path.

6D.ai has been working on impressive demos of its AR tech that the company has shared online and Niantic looks like it's planning to use these tools to build out a deeper multiplayer AR world map that layers onto our existing one in a lot greater detail. These are exactly the types of things that need to be built before a true killer AR headset arrives.

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