This week, the developer of the augmented reality (AR) mobile game Pokemon Go, Niantic, announced the monumental acquisition of 8th Wall, a veteran developer of webAR experiences.
8th Wall’s webAR engine enables brands and businesses to quickly create immersive experiences for mobile devices without requiring additional applications. The platform allows firms to use 8th Wall’s framework to remove barriers to entry for in-house developer teams.
Erik Murphy-Chutorian, Chief Executive and Founder of 8th Wall, said:
“8th Wall has been on a mission to bring AR to everyone. We have been doing this by equipping developers, brands, and agencies with a complete set of tools to create web-based AR experiences for mobile devices – no app required”
Before Niantic acquired the Paolo Alto-based firm, 8th Wall powered around 50,000 successful immersive campaigns for global brands, including award-winning work with groups such as Nike, Lego, and Universal. The campaigns reached roughly 3.5 billion smartphones and devices.
By including 8th Wall technology, AR developers working with Niantic’s Lightship augmented reality software development kit (ARSDK) will be able to realise an AR-powered ‘real-world metaverse’.
“In joining Niantic, we will be furthering this mission by offering developers more tools to build engaging and interactive AR experiences which harness the power and freedom of the web”
The news comes after a fruitful 2021 for 8th Wall that saw the firm partner with Ready Player Me to create cross-platform avatars for browser-based immersive experiences. Additionally, in the same year, the California-based firm released version 17 of its popular AR engine ahead of the Niantic acquisition.
Niantic Powering On the Go Immersive Experiences
Last year, the Pokemon Go developers bought out Scaniverse, a similar webAR engine and 3D rendering application exclusive to Apple iPhones, which exploits the advanced LIDAR scanner found on the device.
In the same month, Niantic hired Ex-Meta Exec Dan Morris as Director of Developer Relations to oversee communications with developers using Lightship ARSDK.
Last year, following the events, Niantic raised roughly $300 million USD to expand Lightship ARSDK, increase support for its preexisting experiences, develop new immersive experiences, and build towards the real-world Metaverse as Niantic obtained 8th Wall.
Rounding off a successful 2021, Niantic officially began licencing Lightship ARDK to third-party development teams. Currently, Lightship is free for developers — excluding a $5.00 charge per 10,000 users for multiplayer features — until May this year.