Building the 3D Map of the World
For the AR Cloud to live up to its potential, some tough technical problems needed to be solved. Persistence and multi-player have been demonstrated several times over the past ten years, however the real problem to be solved is in making it reliable and easy to use. Occlusion could only be solved with power-hungry depth cameras with limited range and which didn’t work outside in sunlight. Semantic understanding of a scene was restricted to 2D image recognition. The technology to solve these UX problems needs to be a combination of dense mapping of the world (every pixel, not just optical features), and 3D semantics to deliver a great UX. Then the technology needs to be able to run on mass-market smartphone devices without any add-ons, to reach a big enough support a business.
One of the biggest challenges of AR was the chicken-and-egg problem of human-scale (as opposed to vehicle scale) 3D spatial models being needed to allow digital and physical content to interact. No one would manually go and capture the data without a compelling app being there to justify the data capture. No one could build the app without the 3D model being there for it to interact with. Somehow the data needed to be captured at the same time as the app was run. Victor had the technology to solve this problem!
The AR Cloud is build on the foundation of a machine readable 3D map that is a 1:1 scale model of the real-world
Soon after we met, we decided to work in parallel to get a company off the ground. After about a year of testing with customers and evolving the technology, we just needed a consumer grade 6DoF tracker to come to market — ARKit and ARCore answered those prayers (not exactly… we knew they were coming :-). So with Oxford University as our 3rd co-founder, we founded 6D.ai. Our mission was to solve the hardest computer vision software problems preventing developers from building engaging AR applications. To build API’s for the AR Cloud.
The immediate response to what we had created was astounding. Many incredible customers and partners reached out expressing interest in working with us. A dream team of talented team members is joining together on this shared mission. After careful consideration of our long term capital needs, we were fortunate enough to recruit Niko and General Catalyst to join our team on this mission.
The Long Game
We loved that from the beginning Elon Musk shared what Tesla was going to do over the long term. So, in the same spirit here is 6D.ai’s secret master plan:
Build APIs to capture the 3D geometry of the world for AR apps
Apply that 3D data to build semantic APIs, so apps can understand the world
All to give a superpower to people’s inherent creative genius.
AR will usher in a similar transformations seen in the wireline internet and wireless internet revolutions. However it will take longer than we would like, will require significant capital, wisdom and some luck to thread the needle in the market. Building 6D.ai into the defining AR software company, by making AR developers successful, is the mission of the team we are building, and which we are honored to contribute our time and energy.