Daily Management Review

Crowd-Sourced Mapping Company Mapillary Acquired By Facebook


Crowd-Sourced Mapping Company Mapillary Acquired By Facebook
The Swedish mapping technology company Mapillary that gathers together images contributed by tens of thousands of contributors to create immersive and up-to-date maps have been acquired by last week by the social media giant Facebook, the two companies announced.
The technology at the disposal of Mapillary would be put to use for powering products such as Facebook Marketplace and for supplying of data to humanitarian organizations, said the Chief Executive Officer of Mapillary, Jan Erik Solem. The MalmŮ-based startup of Sweden was founded by Solem after he had left Apple Inc in 2013.
In 2010, Solem had sold a facial recognition start-up, Polar Rose, to Apple.
While the deal was confirmed by Facebook, no details of the deal were provided by the social media company. There were also no details provided by Mapillary on the details of the deal.
In the field of mapping, one of the most expensive issues is the keeping maps updated with “street level data” about signs, addresses and other information that are observable form the road level. The technology and efforts of Mapillary are aimed to solve this problem in mapping.
For large tech companies such as Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google, this problem of road level mapping is solved by the companies sending out fleets of vehicles that are fitted with cameras and other sensors for gathering of images from the road level.
On the other hand, the primary strategy used by Mapillary in solving the problem is to crowd source the images. The company then uses sophisticated technology to insert the pictures contributed from smart phones and other types of cameras on to maps, making use of “computer vision” technology to slowly assemble these various images to create a three-dimensional map of an area or a street from the street level.
It is considered by many that such street level maps are crucial for the development of self driving vehicles. However a spokesperson for Facebook said that the technology of Mapillary would also be used to power some Facebook products that the company is currently developing such as augmented reality glasses and virtual reality headsets.