Niantic will build a 3D AR world map with help from Pokémon GO players

AR Plus Pokémon GO
AR Plus Pokémon GO

Trainers, John Hanke, Niantic’s CEO, has shared some groundbreaking information in an interview with Reuters. According to the interview, Niantic is planning to build something that they’re describing as an AR Map, a concept they describe as crucial to advanced augmented reality maps.

Users are expected to use their smartphone camera in order to observe the world around them, and a specialised software component — likely provided by Escher Reality, a company NIA recently acquired — would recognise contours and objects around the player, storing them in Escher’s proprietary data format on Niantic’s servers.

Hanke shared the following statement with Reuters:

“We want players to build out the game board they want to play on”

Mapping will start with public spaces such as parks and plazas, Hanke said, declining to specify when. Nor did he disclose how AR maps would fit into Niantic’s games, which also include the upcoming “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.”

Hanke said Niantic would allow third-party developers to use its AR map, which industry executives estimate could become part of a multibillion-dollar global business. Google is also apparently on board with Google spokeswoman Mara Harris saying:

“It’s early days but we’re excited about the potential for these types of world-scale AR experiences”

Effects on the game play

According to Reuters and Hanke, the AR map could be utilised to create an entire playground in the augmented reality, enable someone to anchor new virtual structures and allow other users to view the same layout.

This is eerily similar to Escher Reality’s Multiplayer AR experience demo from 2017:

Parting words

If Niantic manages to pull this one off, it will be a monumental moment for the industry. With 65 million active Pokémon GO players, we are just hoping that Niantic’s servers are ready for it — we have no reason to doubt that players will scan and capture every rock, tree and park on the planet.