3D Mapping Company C3 Technologies Acquired by... Someone
Swedish 3D mapping company C3 Technologies appears to have been acquired in July. Saab AB announced last month that it had completely divested itself of its 57.8% stake in the company for approximately $150 million US dollars. Meanwhile, C3's website has since been completely shut down though portions of it remain in Google's cache.
Nyteknik.se reports only that the buyer is a western company.
We have promised not to say who the buyer is. But there are no Chinese or other Asian companies. It is a company in the Western world, says one of Saab today after the deal is worth 1 billion.
That opens the door to one of many companies, but certainly the big players such as Apple, Microsoft and Google are the prime candidates.
C3 Technologies made a big splash in January at CES 2011 when it began demoing its technology on both Android and iOS devices. The company uses formerly classified missile targeting technology to achieve its impressive 3D mapping effects.
C3's models are generated with little human intervention. First, a plane equipped with a custom-designed package of professional-grade digital single-lens reflex cameras takes aerial photos. Four cameras look out along the main compass points, at oblique angles to the ground, to image buildings from the side as well as above. Additional cameras (the exact number is secret) capture overlapping images from their own carefully determined angles, producing a final set that contains all the information needed for a full 3-D rendering of a city's buildings. Machine-vision software developed by C3 compares pairs of overlapping images to gauge depth, just as our brains use stereo vision, to produce a richly detailed 3-D model.
"Unlike Google or Bing, all of our maps are 360° explorable," says Smith, "and everything, every building, every tree, every landmark, from the city center to the suburbs, is captured in 3-D—not just a few select buildings."
This is one of their promo videos that remains on YouTube demonstrating how the technology may be used on an iPad:
Other even more impressive videos include a 3d map of Hoover Dam, and Flythrough of Oslo.
Unfortunately, we don't actually know which company has purchased the technology, though with the complete removal of C3's website, it seems the buyer has uses for the technology beyond just supplying app developers an SDK for its use. We were only able to find one possible link with one Nyteknik.se commenter claiming that they "happen to know it was Apple!".
Apple would be a good fit for the company, as they have already admitted to be working on their own turn-by-turn direction GPS service, and we've also found evidence that they have licensed map data from a number of companies. It would also reduce their dependance on Google's mapping solution which presently is used on iOS devices. Apple previously purchased mapping company Placebase and has been aggressively hiring for their Geo Team to take Maps to the "next level".