- Snapchat has reportedly acquired four-year-old Israeli company Cimagine in a deal worth between $30 and $40 million, according to TechCrunch and Calcalist News.
- Cimagine developed a patent-pending markerless technology that enables smartphone users to scan real-world products without the need of a reference marker, like some other solutions require, to embed a realistic 3-D image in a live video scene.
- The company's technology is currently used by retailers and brands like Shop Direct and Coca-Cola to help customers visualize their products in specific locations, like a room or store.
The deal for Cimagine is the latest example of how Snapchat is looking to beef up its offerings for marketers, who have complained of multiple challenges with the platform in the past. Additional examples include adding app install ads and launching new targeting tools.
A more robust technology set could also potentially help Snapchat's parent company Snap Inc. drive up the value of the company in advance of an initial public offering, which is scheduled for early next year.
Presumably, Cimagine's augmented reality technology will be integrated into the Snapchat app, enabling users to enhance scans of products with one of its lenses. The move also suggests Snapchat may be eyeing a commerce place, as Cimagine's and other similar technologies are already being used by retailers to give customers a way to visualize items situated in a specific location. According to Cimagine's website, multi-channel retailer HSN recently leveraged its technology to launch an augmented reality design app for the Frontgate and Ballard Designs brands.
More broadly, the acquisition reflects the importance of augmented reality for next generation digital engagements. The technology's potential was highlighted earlier this year by surprise hit Pokemon Go and reinforced by recent research from IDC, which forecast augmented reality has the bigger long-term potential compared to virtual reality. Cimagine's four co-founders bring expertise in computer vision and image processing that can help Snapchat develop other uses for the technology.