While there was a time we could get around holding a physical map to figure out the route, it is no longer the norm. With the power of global satellites at our service and a smartphone, digital maps have transformed the way we travel. However, there’s always room for improvement and the Malmo-based street-level imagery platform Mapillary is doing the same. The company, in fact, is doing so well that Facebook just bought it. Here are five things you need to know about the thriving company.
Facebook acquires Mapillary
Facebook has acquired Mapillary’s team and project will join the social media giant’s broader open mapping effort. While details of the acquisition haven’t been disclosed, Mapillary says it will stay true to its commitment to OpenStreetMap.
Mapillary co-founder and CEO Jan Erik Solem writes in a blog post, “From day one of Mapillary, we have been committed to building a global street-level imagery platform that allows everyone to get the imagery and data they need to make better maps. With tens of thousands of contributors to our platform and with maps being improved with Mapillary data every single day, we’re now taking the next big step on that journey.”
Mapillary’s funding details
As mentioned earlier, the details about Facebook’s acquisition of Mapillary have yet to be revealed. However, the startup did rather well for itself over the years. The Sweden-based company was founded in 2013 by Jan Erik Solem, Johan Gyllenspetz, Peter Neubauer, and Yubin Kuang. It raised a total of €22.3 million by 2020 before it was bought by Facebook. Some prominent investors such as BMW i Ventures, Atomico, Sequoia, Samsung Catalyst Fund, and others invested in the company.
How Mapillary improves maps
Mapillary uses crowdsourced street-level map data, which enables far more detailed data points than what would be possible via a satellite. With its global network of contributors, the company aims to make the world highly accessible by visualising the world and creating better maps. It employs computer vision for connecting images across time and space, in order to create immersive street-level views and extract map data.
How Facebook benefits Mapillary acquisition
Facebook is currently building tools and technology that will enable it to improve maps. This is to be done via a combination of machine learning, satellite imagery and partnerships with mapping communities, as part of the company’s mission to bring the world closer together. The maps are being developed by Facebook for products like Facebook Marketplace, which drives transactions for millions of small businesses, and supply vital data to humanitarian organizations around the world. Augmented Reality or AR is another application.
More accuracy for Facebook’s products?
Facebook is well known to buy promising companies. WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus VR are some of the notable ones. However, in an acquisition somewhat similar to the current one, the company acquired the London-based computer vision startup Scape Technologies earlier this year. Scape offers a “Visual Positioning Service,” which is meant to be used by developers whose apps require superior positioning accuracy. Implementing this with Mapilliary’s offering can deliver seriously accurate map data with super-accurate positioning, however, this is just speculation on our part.