Mobile

CIA venture arm backs Spike, which lets you make precise models of anything

A New Zealand company funded by the U.S. intelligence community’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, has built a smartphone technology called Spike that lets anyone take precise measurements of — and make 3D models of — anything in the outside world.

Spike lets you take a smartphone snapshot of something at up to 200 yards away, and then measure, map and 3D model it — and share it — all within its app. Spike includes a laser-based hardware device that attaches to your phone. It also includes compass, camera, and GPS technology.

The product targets architects, engineers, interior designers, film set locators, insurance appraisers, underwriter/valuers, commercial painters, and arborists, among others.

The company, Ike, has raised $8.5 million so far, including from In-Q-tel, the Congress-backed venture arm that invests in technology companies on behalf of the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. New Zealand venture capital firm No 8 Ventures has also invested.

Until now, the company has specialized in augmented reality technology — offering both hardware and software — for the intelligence, defense, and emergency management industries. But two days ago, it launched Spike to open up its augmented reality and 3D technology to any smartphone user.

While the company said it has built a working prototype of Spike and already offers an Android app, it launched a Kickstarter campaign to complete its development work. This will include an iOS app and an API for developers. Developers will be able to embed the company’s tools into their applications, or build applications over the data stream from the calibrated laser camera, to offer long range accuracy and depth perception.

The company has already raised close to half of the $100,000 it says it needs to be able to move forward with the Spike API project.

Competitors — including Trimble, Autodesk, ESRI, and Motorola Solutions — tend to either be hardware or software players. Ike says it wants to offer developers an API drawing on the best of its hardware and software offerings.

Spike technology


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