The year 2021 is already promising to yield a number of major shifts in the augmented reality landscape, and Snap is signaling that it has every intention of being an aggressive part of that narrative.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that the company has acquired a London-based research group called Arial AI, a team dedicated to developing ways to track the human form in AR with a high degree of accuracy.
Specifically, the team is described its work as focused on "real-time and high-accuracy 3D reconstruction of the human body shape from a single RGB image on mobile devices." In addition to these AR reconstructions, the team has also been working on what it calls "customized B2B services via our cloud-based API solution. Tailored 'human understanding' software to your individual business needs."
No acquisition price was been revealed in the initial report from Business Insider, but according to a CNBC report, the team, which previously raised $1.1 million, was likely snapped up for a figure somewhere in the "single-digit millions." And while the news is just being revealed to the public, according to Snap, the Ariel AI team joined the maker of Snapchat in the waning weeks of 2020.
It's not difficult to see how Areal AI's tech dovetails with Snap's own mission of turning AR interactions into a seamless operation capable of high-level tracking and object mapping via smartphone and, presumably, smartglasses in the future. In one video posted by the Ariel AR team last summer, the team showed off how its body mapping and tracking technology bested Apple's ARKit solution attempting to achieve the same result.
This recent move by Snap is just the latest in a series of quiet but major moves by the company that indicates just how integral it believes AR will be to the future of computing as new layer of reality and as the primary interface for nearly all digital interactions.