Will Augmented Reality Drive the Next Big Social Media Platform?

April 4, 2018 - 5 minutes read

It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that social media is going through a bit of a rough spot. More people than ever are abandoning Facebook over issues of data distrust.

It also wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the development of augmented reality (AR) is still in its experimental stage. But one startup is already aiming to make the next social phenomenon with the technology.

A New Social Environment

When Anjney Midha went to Singapore to finish up high school, he found himself at a loss for words. Before arriving there, the now-twenty-five-year-old CEO of Ubiquity6 had spent all of his time at a boarding school with stringent rules on technology. Midha had access to email for about 20 minutes a week. Other than that, there was no use of phones, TVs, video games, or internet.

Singapore wouldn’t be the last time he’d have culture shock so strong it left him speechless. When Midha came to California to study at Stanford, he again found his environment and experiences hard to convey to friends and family back home. Soon after this, Midha found himself in the venture capital world, where he would discover Orlando-based AR startup Magic Leap.

Seeing Magic Leap in action gave Midha hope that he could bring an idea he had to life — he wanted to use AR to share his experiences in a way more meticulous than words, more interactive than a photo. So with his friend Ankit Kumar, he founded Ubiquity6, a startup that wants to give you, your friends, and your family the ability to “edit reality together.”

An AR Ecosystem

“We allow anyone with a phone to create a space together and then start editing that space, editing reality together,” explains Midha. Set to debut on iOS and Android this summer, Ubiqtuity6’s app leverages deep learning to make a 3D map and gain an understanding of a room in about 30 seconds. By “understanding”, we mean that if some digital ball was bouncing around a room, it would know and react differently with a wooden floor versus a couch.

Using a phone to generate a 3D map can usually take quite a few hours, so this feat alone is extremely impressive. But what really makes Ubiquity6 stand out is that it’s not a solo, one-off experience. The startup doesn’t see the point in making one of those. Instead, it hopes to be the platform you can access multiple experiences from.

Midha dubs this as a spatial browser. He explains: “Think of us as building the browser, and we’re helping people build the first websites for the physical world. Ultimately we believe people will be building a ton of things we haven’t imagined that you’ll be able to search, discover and launch with the people you care about, using our browser.”

Social Sophistication

With roughly $10.5 million and 17 employees, this is an ambitious goal for an eight-month-old startup. Especially when you consider that many of the bigger tech companies are also striving to define the AR landscape. “It’s kind of a race right now to define what the ecosystem will look like,” says Brian Blau, an AR analyst at Gartner. “The cool thing is that it’s a green field right now, it’s open. Some of the bigger companies are going to carve out their own area, but that leaves room for startups, especially if they have something unique.”

Midha says that the app has already hosted 10,000 users in a single space during tests. Even if the goal may seem outlandish to some, Midha deems it a necessity to fix some of the communication flaws of the Internet. “The biggest thing that’s been missing for the entire last decade was our physical embodied space.”

Perhaps this summer, when friends in London can sit down for some virtual tea with pals from New York City, we’ll realize what aspect current social media platforms were missing all along. And hopefully, Midha will finally get the chance to show his friends and family his perspective.

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