Niantic has acquired Matrix Mill, a London-based startup that works with building and perfecting deep neural networks that infer 3D information about the surrounding world from cameras.
It's easy to see why Niantic, a company best known for games that interpret the real world through the lens of a smartphone camera, could be interested in the technology, particularly with the continued development of mobile megahit Pokemon Go.
The Matrix Mill team hails from University College London, and from the press release their tech "redefines how machines see and understand the 3D world, and more importantly, how digital objects can interact with the real elements of it."
Could this be the technology that lets Pikachu climb across your desk, or a Pidgeotto weave through the trees overhead? The description sure sounds like it.
"At Niantic, we frequently talk about how in order to augment reality, you need to be able to understand it," reads a blog post. "The Matrix Mill team has come up with novel ideas that push the boundaries of what machines can process, thinking around occlusions, and seeing the world closer to the way human eyes can. As a result of this hard work, AR experiences can feel more natural to the eye, which is a goal we have squarely in our sights."