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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.

Realtime map screenshot from C3 Technologies 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.

As described by Technology Review.
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 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".

Top Rated Comments

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96 months ago
Wow! This is really impressive.
Rating: 7 Votes
96 months ago

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Meanwhile, C3's website ( has since been completely shut down though portions of it remain in Google's cache.

So that's what happens after you die: You go into Google's cache!
Rating: 6 Votes
96 months ago
buys a company and shut down it's operation....

sounds like something someone would do. :cool:
Rating: 4 Votes
96 months ago
I can't wait until I see the "Something Happened Somewhere; Someone Alleged to be Involved" headline.
Rating: 4 Votes
96 months ago
It looks amazing. I also don't use satellite view because it's distracting but my bigger fear is loading that level of detail. Maps on iOS is getting unusable primarily because it's so slow.

I want a faster way to enter a search, clear a search, revise a search or a route. Google's 3D is cool but the real win for that wasn't the 3D, it was the move to vector maps. Storing a 100mi radius of maps on your phone is what we need.
Rating: 3 Votes
96 months ago
It'd be pretty cool to have the next gen of GPS technology
Rating: 3 Votes
96 months ago
Green Water

What is it St. Patrick's Day in that city? I wouldn't want to drink that water.
Rating: 3 Votes
96 months ago

You mean like Google navigation software only for Android or their vector based maps only for Android?

Be honest, we all owe Google a lot.

Google earth is a jaw dropping and immense task to achieve, as is street view, sending cars out all around the globe (where they are allowed) to capture images that anyone on the world can enjoy from the PC or Mac.

It's a stunning achievement and something that we'd never have dreamed was even practical to be done a few years ago.
Rating: 3 Votes
96 months ago

Yeah, Nokia sounds right. C3 tech is behind it's 3D Maps.

Nokia, Microsoft. Same thing these days.
Rating: 3 Votes
96 months ago

Google doesn't need it enough to spend $1B on it. Apple has the money, the motivation, the secretive nature alluded to by the seller, and the commitment to take mapping to "the next level", as Clive suggested.

The quote was from a swedish magazine so it's in swedish kronor.

1 billion SEK = 157 million USD.

Rating: 3 Votes

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