Earlier this year, a little Swedish company called C3 Technologies took CES by storm, demonstrating their incredible iOS and Android apps that leveraged formerly top secret missile targeting technology to create ultra-realistic 3D maps.
Fast forward seven months, and C3 Technologies’ website is a ghost town, and C3’s parent company, Saab, has sold off it’s 57.8% stake in the company in a deal that is worth over $157 million dollars.
So who bought them? Our best guess: Apple.
Saab has only said they sold their stake to a “Western company,” but watch the video above, and look at this tech description, and then imagine iOS 6 with this technology baked in:
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
Incredible. If Apple didn’t buy these guys up, Steve Jobs should personally shoot the guy who passed this opportunity by. As MacRumors notes, this would seriously reduce Apple’s dependance on Google Maps and open the door for Apple to aggressively take iOS mapping to the next level without being in bed with Android’s makers.