Niantic has revealed its next project, and it it's not a Pokémon game. The mobile AR developer is building a platform to help it and other developers create better augmented experiences. The Niantic Real World Platform uses computer vision technology to map the environment and the objects within it and leverages machine learning to understand the context of objects and how they interact with each other.
Niantic’s new technology enables it to create AR experiences that blend in with the real world. For example, Niantic’s special mapping features occlusion technology that enables virtual characters to move behind real objects. The occlusion system isn’t perfect, but it’s a big improvement over Niantic’s previous AR technology. Niantic said the technology is still in the early days of development, though, so the company should have plenty of time to refine it.
Well-Equipped to Get AR Right
Niantic is well-equipped to solve AR technology's challenges because it recently acquired a couple of companies to help it create the Niantic Real World Platform. In February, it snapped up Escher Reality for its expertise with computer vision technology, and this week Niantic announced the acquisition of Matrix Mill and its team of computer vision and machine learning experts.
Niantic said the team from Matrix Mill is focused on “developing techniques to understand 3D space,” while the team from Escher Reality is building a solution to enable “persistent, cross platform, multi-user experiences.” Niantic said that latency is the biggest stumbling block that prevents seamless multi-player AR experiences. It developed a proprietary low-latency network technique that enables cross-platform communication fast enough for shared AR experiences.
Available to Developers
Niantic is still developing the Niantic Real World Platform, but the company doesn’t plan to hoard the technology for itself. When the platform is ready for primetime, Niantic said it would make it available to other developers. The company plans to invite “a handful of third-party developers to work with the tools later this year.” For more information check out Niantic’s developer page.