Niantic recently released an article with some fascinating information about the future of AR- Augmented Reality. While our sister branch, Pokémon GO Hub, covered the topic with a perspective more focused on Pokémon Go, we decided to adopt a more generic perspective! Huge thanks to the infamous Kristy from the Pokémon GO Hub who provided the GO Hub’s review which you can find right here!

The entire article can be found here: A Peek Inside the Niantic Real World Platform

As Kristy so clearly outlines, “[t]he goal Niantic makes is that they are trying to integrate AR more into the real world, making it understand and interact with the real-world objects and people around them. We all know that feeling when we turn on our AR to take an AR picture (especially on Android or with AR+ turned off) and we get that awkward image of the Pokémon floating midair, and we have to try and move around the camera and get the Pokémon to sit on a platform. With this new technology, it is very possible the AR object, in this case we will continue to use Pokémon for simplicity sake, will be able to place itself on the ground or nearest object without insistent positioning.”

With that being said, let’s get back to Niantic’s development progress. In their article, Niantic presented to the public three new “projects”

Codename: Occlusion

The first project is titled Occlusion. Niantic’s goal with this project is to better understand the “meaning” of the world that surrounds us in order to improve how things are layered into augmented reality. Occlusion basically allows to improve AR entities’ interaction with real world boundaries, objects, etc. The video below, from the London branch of Niantic, clearly demonstrates what occlusion is and how it can improve the AR experience.

As Kristy says: “In the showcase of the new technology, we then see Pikachu running behind displays of plants, around the legs of different people, and overall understanding the world around it and interacting with it. We even get to see Pikachu and Eevee together playing in the real-world setting.”

This could mean a significant improve in augmented reality. Dinosaurs in Jurassic World Alive could potentially interact with buildings, humans, etc. therefore enabling many creative opportunities to players. Just imagine being able to take a picture of a Raptor actually jumping on you!

Walkers in The Walkind Dead: Our World could stumble over a garbage bin or a dead body before making their way to you. In short, possibilities are limitless! This would provide a much more realistic gaming experience and allow people to have a more in-depth experience of the game!

Codename: Neon

Neon basically is a cross-platform AR technology allowing multiplayer gameplay. As shown in the video below, “we see players running around zapping each other with balls of light, but more so, on the phone screen you can see each player with their username and some sort of score attached to them.” (Kristy)

While this insanely amazing demo could clearly be depicting the sort of technology that Niantic intends on using with Wizards Unite, the multiplayer and cross-platform technology could mean a lot more to the AR technology as a whole! We could be seeing PVP in the real world in Pokémon GO, Jurassic World Alive, etc! The possibilities are limitless once again!

Codename: Tonehenge

The last demo from Niantic’s AR showcase, project Tonehenge, pushes AR technology even further with the cross-platform and the multiplayer developments. As you can see in the video below, players have to work together to solve a puzzle, which clearly demonstrates another possibility on how to implement multiplayer. However, the most interesting part is when you realize that footage was shot on both an iOS (iPhone X) device and an Android (Google Pixel 2) device!

As we see in Pokémon GO and The Walking Dead: Our World (yet to be implemented in Jurassic World Alive), cooperative gameplay is an important part of AR mobile games. Whether it’s through raids, trades, quests, etc., people love to actually play together. These developement from Niantic could allow a giant leap to be made towards an insanely improved multiplayer experience. Projects Neon and Tonehenge clearly demonstrate it.

Parting Words

While this progress in AR technology is certainly impressive, there is no indication as to when it could be implemented in current games, or even how it will be. Therefore, anything about the subject is speculative at this point.

What we are mostly curious about is how other companies such as Ludia or Next Games will adapt or perhaps have access to the technology. There is no doubt in our mind that they will at some point reach Niantic’s development progress, but let’s hope for sooner than later.

What do you think about this development progress in AR technology? What do you hope to see implemented? Let us know in the comments, make sure to join our Discord server to be a part of the discussion, and follow us on Twitter to show us your support!