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Niantic’s Annual Summit Reveals Crucial AR Tech


Last Tuesday, famed developers of the augmented reality (AR) game Pokemon Go, Niantic, announced several new immersive technologies during its first-ever Lightship annual summit.

During the first day of the conference, Niantic introduced software to improve AR immersive experiences developed with its Lightship software development kit (SDK), along with Visual Positioning System (VPS), AR world maps, Campfire, new 8th Wall pricing tiers, investments, and acquisitions.

Niantic plans to launch its second day of the summit, which is viewable online on May 25, 9:00 PDT.

What’s New from Niantic?

Day one saw the San Francisco-based firm introduce a lineup of technologies to significantly improve the Lightship SDK for developers, brands, and consumers.

Niantic debuted VPS, which enables developers to accurately overlay real-time 3D assets on top of real-world environments, and includes more than 30,000 publicly-accessible locations for its launch, with more planned for the future.

Niantic includes locations for its VPS service to enable the development of multiplayer Metaverse experiences on a global scale. It also enables developers to upload custom locations to enhance the entire VPS service by providing a comprehensive AR globe mapped out partially by the Lightship community.

Niantic also plans to launch a series of VPS-ready AR applications to show off its latest technology, which developers created during its private beta stage, and has also introduced an AR world map built from Lightship developer applications and data to support its VPS service.

Examples of AR-ready locations showcasing Lightship hotspots. PHOTO: Niantic

Niantic takes real-world data collected by environmental scans, video, and geocaching features to construct AR maps. Once developers supply enough data, Niantic will add a completed AR-ready site to its VPS service.

The San Francisco-based firm debuted Niantic Wayfarer, a smartphone application available in public beta that accelerates the construction of Niantic’s AR map by giving the required tools to the Lightship community. Furthermore, Niantic currently runs a surveyor program in six major cities to scale its AR map, with more cities on the way.

The news comes after Niantic released its Lightship SDK for free for third-party AR development teams in November last year. Following the debut, Niantic raised roughly $300 million to support the SDK.

Introducing Campfire

Niantic also debuted Campfire, an upcoming social hub it will integrate into existing Lightship SDK applications, to enhance Metaverse experiences with in-person interactions such as real-world gameplay, meetups, and events.

Niantic describes Campfire as a “real-world social network” that uses its mapping and geo-caching services to allow users to share Metaverse content and communicate in immersive environments.

Campfire provides messaging services for conventional social media platforms, and unites the Lightship user-base with developers, improving the communication and transparency of creators producing immersive experiences on its platform.

Fresh Acquisitions

The news comes after the firm’s Ventures division revealed significant investments into TRIPP and PIXELYNX to create new WebAR content.

Recently, TRIPP joined Niantic’s LightShip SDK early access program to design an AR meditation experience where users plant flowers in an immersive, peaceful garden environment.

Niantic also partnered with PIXELYNX to deliver AR live events to connect fans with artists using gaming and Metaverse technologies.

Additionally, partners 8th Wall will introduce new pricing tiers designed to suit Lightship AR content creators, and Niantic will soon add its fresh VPS features for developers using 8th Wall’s AR toolkit.

The news comes after Niantic acquired 8th Wall in March for an undisclosed sum to remove barriers to entry for in-house AR developer teams, and also purchased NZXR in a Metaverse push to create multiplayer AR experiences.

Last year, Niantic bought Scaniverse, a rendering application designed exclusively for Apple’s LiDAR and iOS services, enabling the firm to enhance Lightship SDK for iPhone devices. Also, the acquisition helps Scaniverse transition its rendering solution to Android operating systems.



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