The creators behind Pokemon Go will let a handful of developers take advantage of their AR platform. The company also spoke about ways they’re improving their AR technology. (Photo via Niantic)
Niantic, the developers behind popular mobile game Pokemon Go, will allow third-party developers to use their AR platform. Called The Real World platform, it powers games like Ingress, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and the aforementioned Pokemon app. According to CEO John Hanke, the company decided to open up its platform to third-party developers to allow other people to “make use of the Niantic Real World Platform to build innovative experiences that connect the physical and the digital in ways that we haven't yet imagined.” But not just anyone can use the platform. Those interested have to sign up at Niantic’s site. From there they’ll select a handful of lucky developers later this year.
The team also gave some insight on how their AR platform has improved over the year. A big AR limitation is how the objects interact within the 3D space. Usually, AR objects can only move a certain way, but the company wanted to provide a more immersive experience. These limitations don’t help to blend AR objects into our reality. To address this, they created a new visual technique called occlusion. This lets virtual creatures move behind and in between real-world objects. They shared a video of how it works, and it shows the adorable Pikachu weaving between real-world obstacles. To achieve this, they used machine learning techniques to train a neural network to reliably examine a live scene with dynamic parts and make it, so people and objects hide the virtual creatures.
To further enhance the AR experience, Niantic has created a low-latency AR networking technique that lets you share your AR experience no matter what device you’re using that involves multiple people in the same digital space. It works by removing the need for a smartphone to communicate with a server before establishing a connection to a nearby user. Instead, the network of devices allows each one to communicate directly with each other through cell tower transmission. This allows lower latency connections and more immersive interactions with players. And with recent acquisitions of AR and machine learning firms Escher Reality and Matrix Mill, the company plans to continue pushing the limits of AR and improving upon the platform. One of their goals is to make AR experiences feel “more natural to the eye.”
So what’s next for Niantic? According to Hanke, he wants the Real World Platform to work similar to how Amazon Web Services does for cloud computing. He wants app creators to use their platform from anywhere in the world and help develop their own experiences and services that make the most of AR technology and tools. They didn’t mention whether they would take a cut of apps that use its technology, but more information is expected to come later on.
As for your average Pokemon Go players, at least you can now trade in the game, right?
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