If one company on the market is bullish on 3D mapping, it must be the San Francisco-based developer behind Pokémon GO – Niantic Labs. Niantic has acquired Scaniverse, an iOS app that uses LIDAR to create 3D scans of real-world objects.
What’s a LIDAR exactly? LIDAR is a method for determining ranges (variable distance) by targeting an object with a laser and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver.
Similar to radar, LIDAR pulses light instead of radio waves and measures how far the measured point is.
The app works only on iPhone 12 series and iPad Pro devices from 2020 and later, but it looks like pure magic when used:
Scaniverse’s founder Keith Ito shared that the app will remain a standalone app in the App Store, but Niantic’s team of computer vision experts will help with further development.
Niantic seems enthusiastic about integrating Scaniverse in the Niantic Explorers community’s toolbox. Niantic already has technology that uses standard RGB camera sensors, which is employed in the recent “Scan a PokéStop” feature introduced in GO.
Scaniverse’s LIDAR-based scanning technology should allow newer devices to create higher fidelity 3D models of the world around us. According to Kjell Bronder, Niantic’s Group Product Manager for AR, “Higher quality scans allow for more fun and engaging experiences Niantic can support as both a publisher and for third-party apps that use our Lightship platform.”
Niantic’s recent acquisitions have painted a clear picture for the company’s future: build a metaverse on top of a 3D map of the world. Ambitious? Definitely. Impossible? Doesn’t seem like that anymore.
We look forward to seeing how Niantic leverages the newly acquired tech. Hopefully, the San Francisco-based company can make LIDAR-based 3D scanning a core part of their Explorers offering.