Without a doubt, Pokémon Go is the most successful augmented reality game ever, amassing $104 million in revenues in May this year and exceeding the peak number of players in 2016, the year when it was launched. Thus, is it any wonder that developers all over the world would love to have the chance to work on the augmented reality platform used for building this game and create their own exciting and interactive AR experiences? Actually, starting at the end of June this year, they can: the company Niantic has decided to give third party developers access to its proprietary platform, the Niantic Real World Platform.
Niantic Real World Platform—the Most Versatile Augmented Reality Platform So Far
Niantic Real World Platform is the result of smart strategic moves made by the creators of Pokémon Go. So far, Niantic has recently acquired Escher Reality, a company specialized in AR mapping and computer vision, and Matrix Mill, a startup specialized in computer vision and machine learning.
The combination of talents absorbed into Niantic has led to the improvements made to Niantic’s original augmented reality platform, transforming the concept model from an object-oriented platform to a people-oriented platform. Niantic Real World Platform is the first attempt at contextual computer vision, in which computer generated objects are capable of understanding and interacting with real life items.
This concept, named occlusion, is best explained with a video featuring Pikachu, one of the best known Pokémon Go characters. In the first instance—standard AR—Pikachu simply moves through real life objects. In the occlusion AR version, it goes around them and avoids impact with them.
Understanding the Real World and Blending it with AR Objects
In order to give a practical example of its innovative augmented reality platform, Niantic created a short game named Codename: Neon. In this game, Android and iOS phone owners can play side by side, track each other’s holographic persona in real time, with minimum lag, and interact seamlessly with real life objects.
Here is a short teaser of the game:
What this means for game developers is that they now have access to an augmented reality platform which allows them to create realistic and interactive AR experiences for any mobile operating system, in high quality and without having to worry about poor user experience on older devices.
The Niantic Real World Platform is striving to tackle the challenges and the issues of creating enjoyable and seamless AR interactions that can be experienced on older and less powerful mobile phones.
At the same time, the augmented reality platform is pushing towards a deeper understanding of how objects relate to each other, in order to create contextualized AR experiences. A post on Niantic’s blog explains this philosophy: “Imagine, for example, that if our platform is able to identify and contextualize the presence of flowers, then it will know to make a bumblebee appear. Or, if the AR can see and contextualize a lake, it will know to make a duck appear.”
Towards New, More Realistic AR Experiences
Niantic Real World Platform shows that innovations will continue to enrich the augmented reality world, and make it interact with the real world in more realistic and natural ways. For now, this augmented reality platform has already created a very useful innovation: Android and Apple phone owners can join in a game together and have more fun than ever in multiplayer augmented reality games.
Niantic will be selecting third party developers to start using the Niantic Real World Platform later this year. Interested developers can sign up for more information here.