Apple's purchase of C3 Technologies, an amazing 3D mapping company, has reportedly been confirmed by 9to5Mac.
We have now learned Apple is now the owner of C3 Technologies. Sources say that C3 Technologies CEO Mattias Astrom , C3 Technologies CFO Kjell Cederstrand, and lead C3 Technologies Product Manager Ludvig Emgard are now working within Apple's iOS division. The leading trio, along with most of the former C3 Technologies team, is still working as a team in Sweden (interestingly, the division is now called "Sputnik"), where the C3 Technologies company was located prior to the Apple acquisition.
The technology was formally classified and used for missile targeting. Technology Review describes how they create maps that are 360° explorable with every building, tree, and landmark captured in 3D.
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.
Apple is widely expected to release its own mapping solution in the future. The company recently purchased the Placebase and Poly9 mapping companies and has been hiring talent to help it build a new maps service.