The Planet is the Platform: Toward a Decentralized Infrastructure for 3D Spatial Maps
The most important dataset that will be built in the coming decade is the sub-centimeter 3D map of the world, indoors and out. It will provide a foundation for the next generation of human experiences, in which software will be able to program devices to interact meaningfully with the physical world around them.
This information is already in high-demand, as developers in industries from Robotics to Augmented Reality race to acquire the data they need. In the 2D map era, these types of developers had the ability to pay for existing map data from private sources like Google, and consequently were able to focus their efforts on building their applications.
In the 3D map era, there is no such equivalent data source. One significant barrier is that the owners of indoor spaces understand that 3D maps represent an important new type of digital asset and are proving unwilling to surrender their data and risk losing control of who uses it and how.
As a result, the landscape of 3D mapping is fragmented. Application developers in each industry are building their own custom solutions without a standardized permissions process. The same work is repeated over and over without allowing the benefits to flow to the rest of the ecosystem, resulting in massive inefficiencies and slowed technological progress.
In practice, this results in AR experiences that sit unintelligently on top of the real world without being able to interact with it and robots that don’t understand where they are or what’s around them.
We need an open infrastructure for 3D spatial data to break out of these silos and unlock the potential of the next era of maps. This infrastructure must include:
- Democratized access to the tools for capture and usage — The software and hardware for creating and accessing spatial data must be available to more than the limited few who currently have the money or expertise to leverage it.
- First party control over private property data; free access to shared public data — The only fair and scalable approach to private indoor data is to empower property owners and their tenants to control who has access and how it is used. The only fair approach to public, outdoor spaces is to make it free and available for everyone.
- Effortless exchange via shared protocols — 3D data needs to be updated in as close to real time as possible. To achieve this, capture devices of all types need standardized, interoperable data exchange protocols and formats.
Fantasmo’s mission is to build this open, end-to-end infrastructure for spatial data. After spending severals years experimenting with spatially aware Augmented Reality, which led us to a period of deep R&D on spatial mapping, we will now begin to open source our work to build an open and shared global protocol for 3D data.
In the coming months, we will be releasing key components of the infrastructure, including:
- C.P.S. (Camera Positioning Standard) — An image-based localization framework that computes accurate 6 Degree-of-Freedom position from stored map data and is compatible with any camera-equipped device
- An open source hardware and software framework for building reality capture devices
- An open management and storage solution to allow devices to create shared memory of physical spaces
- A global, decentralized network for spatial data that enables effortless exchange and acquisition
In this way, we hope to drive towards a future in which:
- The marginal cost of reality capture is zero, thus enabling democratization and consumerization of mapping. All camera-equipped devices will be able to actively and passively contribute data to a shared global map.
- Data is easily shared and accessible to those who need it due to 1) open protocols designed for interoperability and 2) permission standardization that keep control in the hands of private property owners.
- The open nature of the ecosystem allows for innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity across a variety of for-profit, non-commercial, and cultural use cases.
To see a preview of what we’re building, check out our technology pipeline demo. This video demonstrates the accuracy of our Camera Positioning Standard fused with ARKit tracking versus ARKit alone. This is the beginning of our open stack of solutions for applications that demand more accuracy for real world use.
The world itself is the next platform for human and technological creativity. Help us ensure that the platform is available to everyone. Sign up to learn more at Fantasmo.io.