Bubbli, a startup that just raised $2 million in funding, has high hopes for itself: The founders aim to build a Matrix-esque augmented reality that draws images and information from the millions of geotagged images that are uploaded daily around the world.
Sound a little too "out there"? Well, John Doerr, who once invested heavily in a bizarre little startup called Twitter, disagrees with you. In fact, he took one look at Bubbli and said he had "seen the future."
How can geotagged photos turn into a Matrix? Here are a few clues from Bubbli's website:
Thousands of brilliant papers have been published in computer vision about understanding the world around you through a camera chained to a workstation in a basement. The algorithms need to be set free. Why liberate the algorithms? The better we understand reality through a camera lens, the better we can replicate it elsewhere. After all, our eyes are just light sensors, what does it matter that the light that goes into your eyes is reflected off of an object from the sun or comes from a digital display?
It's true that modern technology enables us to constantly record--and share--the world around us, in ways that we never thought were possible. Every day, people around the world create a veritable digital map of their lives, with photos, videos, GPS locations and more. This is the data that Bubbli wants to compile, sew together and create a virtual world with.
Of course, Google has long been leading the "create a virtual world" mission. But what's different about Bubbli from Google Street View or even Google Goggles is the "real-time" nature of the Matrix idea.
Bubbli seeks to use billions of images--mainly from smartphones--to "map" the world: city streets, inside homes and restaurants, out in nature and everywhere in between. These images could be updated in near real-time, so the virtual world would change and evolve as the real world does. As Fast Company points out, this creates some mind-boggling possibilities:
Imagine the potential for real-world AR gaming, from the safety of your desk, or the potential for detecting news events by seeing crowds forming, or the potential for abuse by law enforcement officials or terrorists, and you'll see instantly why Bubbli is fascinating.