As one of the best known augmented reality (AR) developers on the planet thanks to Pokémon GO as well as its first title Ingress, Niantic Labs has today announced plans to push its AR platform forward via the acquisition of London, UK-based Matrix Mill.
Matrix Mill, is a team that has spent years building and perfecting deep neural networks that can infer 3D information about the surrounding world from one or more cameras. Led by computer vision and machine learning experts Gabriel Brostow, Michael Firman, and Daniyar Turmukhambetov, and hailing from University College London their technology enables machines to see and understand the world, and more importantly for Niantic Labs, how digital objects can interact with the real-world.
“At Niantic, we frequently talk about how in order to augment reality, you need to be able to understand it,” says CEO John Hanke in a blog posting. “The Matrix Mill team has come up with novel ideas that push the boundaries of what machines can process, thinking around occlusions and seeing the world closer to the way human eyes can. As a result of this hard work, AR experiences can feel more natural to the eye, which is a goal we have squarely in our sights.”
This is certainly important when considering AR apps like Pokémon GO. Currently Pokémon GO simply overlays a digital creature into the real-world. So while it kind of looks like it’s there in the same location with you the Pokémon doesn’t interact or realise that’s around it, so there’s no chance of a Pokémon jumping out of a bush.
“We’re excited about Matrix Mill joining Niantic, as it significantly advances our computer vision and machine learning efforts. We are committed to investing aggressively in R&D that can enhance the experiences of our users, both today and in the decades to come. The addition of the Matrix Mill team also allows us to continue to deliver on planet-scale AR, and helps us advance the Niantic Real World Platform.”
There’s no telling when Matrix Mill’s technology will start appearing publicly. When that does happen VRFocus will let you know.