Niantic Launches Lightship Visual Positioning System and AR Map

Niantic Inc., the developer of the popular augmented reality game “Pokemon Go” and the Lightship AR platform, today launched the Lightship visual positioning system for developers, with more than 30,000 public locations for players to enjoy. apps use dynamic AR mapping.

The company also unveiled Campfire, a social app for Niantic’s “real-world metaverse” that connects its games and lets players discover other people, communities, experiences, and events as part of a social network.

The announcements were made at Niantic’s first-ever Lightship Summit in San Francisco, a two-day conference focused on the company’s global AR developer community.

Lightship VPS’ “visual positioning” allows developers to determine users’ position and orientation to anchor AR content with centimeter precision in Niantic-generated maps. This allows them to create even more immersive AR content than before.

Augmented reality works by using a camera on a mobile device to create a “window” into the world where virtual objects can be projected onto what the user can see. These objects then seem to be part of the world, as if sitting on tables, bouncing off walls, moving through the air, or disappearing behind trees and even buildings.

“For many of us, the real promise of AR has been this opportunity to bring the digital world closer to the real world, to marry atoms with bits,” said John Hanke, CEO of Niantic. “It requires accurate 3D mapping for it to work and for users to have a simply magical experience.”

This is why creating maps for Lightship VPS was so important. In order to enable large-scale AR experiences where objects can represent real locations, they needed to be scanned. The scans are made with short video clips collected by Niantic developers, investigators, and players. This data was then processed into a detailed AR map of the world.

Today, Niantic has created VPS cards for over 30,000 locations with good density in six key cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London, and Tokyo. Developers using VPS in these locations get more than just AR access for streetscapes and public landmarks, but also for all publicly accessible locations such as parks, trails, landmarks and local businesses. .

These locations represent only a fraction of the total locations mapped by players already and through their continued use of apps. As a result, Niantic’s servers will continue to process data as it comes in to expand VPS maps even further in the coming months to increase coverage as quickly as possible.

VPS-enabled locations are not just single points on a map, but locatable areas approximately 10 meters in diameter made up of multiple scans with a high amount of detail. Therefore, no matter where users point their cameras, as long as they are within range, the app will be able to locate with high accuracy.

Developers interested in building with VPS can create an account today and download the Lightship Augmented Reality Development Kit. The ARDK works with iOS, Android, and Unity, with a VPS model designed to get developers up and running quickly.

As Niantic developers create even more exciting apps in its real-world metaverse, it will become increasingly important for users to be able to discover and access them. That’s what Campfire is all about, which will act as a real-world social network that starts with a map and acts as a “homepage” for this metaverse where players can discover other players in their area, send them messages and share content.

This way, players engaged in Niantic games and apps can host their own events and meetups to form their own social connections that take place virtually in the real world while utilizing the power of augmented reality.

Before the pandemic, this happened more often when players gathered together to capture Pokemon, the collectible creatures of Pokemon Go, or took over Gyms, real-world locations where rival teams battled. Niantic hopes that as the pandemic subsides and these kinds of experiences slowly become the norm again, Campfire will make it easier for players to host these kinds of events.

Campfire is available now in Niantic’s “Ingress” game and will soon be available across all of its apps and experiences.

Image: Niantic

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Briana R. Cross