Nokia’s Navteq Banks On 3D, Buys PixelActive: What’s Next?

Nokia’s Symbian OS may not yet be supported by Layar, the augmented reality platform that announced $14 million in funding this week, but Nokia (NYSE: NOK) itself is clearly still interested in extending its mobile reach into 3D technology: today its digital mapping division, Navteq, announced it would be buying PixelActive, a specialist in 3D modelling tools, for an undisclosed amount.

Navteq had already been using PixelActive’s Cityscape product for certain services, specifically 3D Junction Objects and 3D City Models. The acquisition, however, will mean that Navteq can more fully integrate the 3D experience into the rest of its product line of maps, and traffic and location data.

Prior to the acquisition, California-based PixelActive had 16 employees. Its founders, Steve Rotenberg and Michael Kelley, will stay with the company and continue to work on R&D, according to the release.

Although PixelActive’s work to-date has revolved around urban mapping – covering things like road networks and and buildings – both founders happen to be alumni of the games developer Angel Studios (now called Rockstar San Diego after its acquisition by Take Two) – leading one to wonder whether PixelActive’s IP might eventually get applied in other ways beyond city mapping.