Technology

Niantic Seeking Pokemon Go Players Help To Build AR Maps

Niantic, AR maps, Pokemon Go, John Hanke
Image Source: geralt /Pixabay.com

Niantic wants Pokemon Go players to be a part of a big experiment toward creating AR maps of their surroundings. These augmented reality maps would be used for various purposes including allowing third-party developers to use them in their apps.

“We want players to build out the game board they want to play on,” Niantic CEO John Hanke told Reuters.

To materialize the plan, Niantic would use the data captured by smartphone cameras when users play AR games – like Pokemon Go – to map contours and objects in the scene. The process would result in maps which would then be made available on the screens of other phones. A nearby player would be able to refresh the data with new captures.

Niantic would start the mapping from spaces like parks and plazas. However, there is no word on how the AR maps would be integrated into Niantic’s own games. Pokemon Go is already capable of pitching the virtual characters onto the real world. However, having AR maps would boost the engagement quotient of the game many times.

According to Hanke, Niantic would enable the third-party developers to use its AR maps, something that could very well turn out to be a multi-billion dollar business. Niantic believes that the AR maps form a major catalyst in pushing the augmented reality apps. Hanke is confident that the AR maps would boost the “new kind of social activity” that Niantic wants its players to engage in.

Hanke, previously, has worked in the capacity of Vice President of product management for Google’s Geo division overseeing the development of Google Earth and Google Maps back in 2005. Niantic was Hanke’s brainchild and was created within Google in 2010. However, the division was later spun off in 2015.

Hanke believes AR maps could be used to create an entire playground in augmented reality. It can enable one player to establish new virtual structures while others can view the same layout. As a probable move toward building its own AR maps, Niantic acquired Escher Reality earlier this year. Hanke’s vision for AR maps does sound strikingly similar to Escher Reality’s Multiplayer AR experience demo from 2017.

If Niantic succeeds in its AR efforts, it would be a massive achievement in the tech industry. We hope Niantic will be all prepared for it, considering the load it will put on the servers when about 65 million active Pokemon GO players start scanning every, tree, park and rock on the planet.

Not just Niantic, but Google is also working on including augmented reality in Google Maps. During the I/O 2018, the search giant stated that Maps would soon provide users with AR directions on their smartphones. The technology would integrate the traditional Street View interface with the live camera view on the user’s smartphone. The feature estimates the user’s location and orientation based on the visual landmarks.

In a separate development, Niantic has announced the details of this year’s Pokemon Go fest. The 2018 Pokemon Go Summer Tour would see thousands of fans from all over the world enjoy the game together. The first event will start on June 30 and conclude on July 1 in Dortmund’s Westfalenpark, Germany. The second event will run from July 14 to 15 at Chicago’s Lincoln Park for an event subtitled “A Walk in the Park.” The third event will take place in Yokosuka, Japan for which no definite date has been announced as yet.

Details of the event are scant, but the ticket rate for the Chicago event could be the same as last year at $20. The Dortmund event would be free. Also, there would be more community days and global Pokemon parties throughout the summer.

Recently, Hanke shared the roadmap for the Pokemon Go with one of the biggest Pokemon Go players – Doctor PoGo. The obvious one was the launch of generation IV monsters. Hanke also revealed that Niantic is working on a Player vs. Player system, but did not give any specific time when the feature would be launched. Further, the CEO stated that work is underway to make maps more raid-friendly and increase the level of the game.

Hanke also hinted that soon players would be able to submit locations considered for Pokestops. The Niantic CEO also confirmed that the company is in no mood to support the players who use spoofing techniques to fool about their locations.