Hexagon adds location to AR, snaps up Immersal

Jul 16, 2021 | Hot Topics

What’s new: Hexagon acquires Immersal, which makes an SDK that adds spatial location to AR solutions.

Why it matters: Sometimes, the location of an AR experience is irrelevant (doing maintenance on a unique item, for example), but in other cases, knowing that this specific item is at a defined grid reference is critical. That’s great and important, but I believe this deal is also about the artificial intelligence Immersal uses to build its geo data and its potential across the Hexagon portfolio.

The details: Hexagon just announced that it has acquired Immersal Oy, maker of an eponymous software development kit (SDK) that enables developers to add location into augmented reality (AR) applications. The Immersal SDK lets developers anchor digital content to real-world objects by location rather than a tag or other reference identifier. According to Immersal, a user’s mobile device can define its location and orientation in the surrounding physical world via machine-readable maps. These maps are constructed from image data and hosted in the Immersal Cloud Service.

Hexagon CEO Ola Rollén described it this way: “This acquisition puts the power of [location-based intelligence] into the hands of those on-site, enhancing their field of view with superimposed digital information, meaning they can literally do more with what they see. For example, direct access to information about an asset – while working with that asset – including step-by-step instructions on how to repair it, can streamline maintenance tasks while reducing material waste and re-work.”

Important, yes, but there’s also this: Immersal developed artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools to help it comb through all of its geo-located images to create the “anchors” that define an object’s location. It’s not unreasonable to imagine that this will have direct impact on Hexagon’s other image-processing businesses.

The Immersal SDK lets AR developers embed these location-based services into lots of end-use cases. Immersal lists business use cases, such as mapping factory floors, warehouses, engine rooms, aiports, and shopping malls; but also gamification of “virtually anything, deepening engagement, adding value, and sparking joy along the way. Use Immersal to map spaces and then add fun and entertaining virtual layers, multiplayer interactive elements, contests, and more”.

Paticulars of the deal weren’t disclosed, other than Hexagon saying that “[t]he acquisition has no significant impact on Hexagon’s earnings.” Clearly, not as big as last week’s Infor EAM acquisition. Immersal will operate as part of Hexagon’s Geosystems division.