Pokémon Go Studio wants to create a “real-world social network”.

Photo: Niantic

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With Visual Positioning System (VPS), Niantic wants to bring augmented reality experiences into reality with unprecedented accuracy.

Flamara slides into the wall, Psiana sits in two backyards, and Nachtara doesn’t appear at all. Pokémon Go players know that Pokémon Go’s AR mode still has plenty of room for improvement for an immersive, collaborative gaming experience. With a VPS, Niantic wants to change that and so much more.

Place digital objects in the real world with centimeter accuracy

The location system presented in detail at the beginning of May can actually identify digital elements with centimeter precision. In addition, players can collectively view the same digital items from different perspectives.

It is based on the digital twin of the site rebuilt among other things, recordings and scanning of the community of Niantic players in AR games like Pokémon Go or Ingress. VPS is active inside this 3D map of a place in an area of ​​about ten meters by ten meters. The smartphone identifies itself based on the camera image. According to Niantic, one image of the environment is sufficient.

Niantic has now announced the launch of the interface for its Lightship development environment as part of its Lightship Conference. According to Niantic exist 30,000 locations worldwide with VPS support In public places such as parks, walkways, landmarks, and local businesses.

VPS distribution is particularly dense in the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, London and Tokyo. Niantic also helped here with its 3D measurements. By the end of the year, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) should be available in over 100 cities. One day, VPS should cover the entire world – then Niantic will have a comprehensive AR cloud infrastructure.

with the new Campfire App Niantic is preparing for this future of augmented reality: the company refers to it as A real social network.i.e. a social network integrated into the real world and connected to real places.

Players can use the platforms to find each other or discover content and events. Campfire will be integrated first into Ingress as an additional layer and then gradually into all other Niantic applications.


With Campfire, Niantic is building a social network around real places. Campfire will be integrated into Niantic Games apps. | Photo: Niantic

AR developers can now create their own AR apps and renders for Niantic’s VPS server via the Niantic development platform and add additional locations to the 3D map via the Niantic Wayfarer app. For more information, visit the Niantic Blog.

Niantic race against Google

The interesting question is whether and how Niantic will be able to prove itself against Google Maps using its VPS. Google has been offering visual positioning via AI image analysis for years, which map users can use to include exact AR direction arrows at intersections or on streets.

According to Google, VPS is more accurate than GPS, especially in cities. Google uses the recordings from Google Street View for its VPS, so it has access to a nearly unlimited data stream of visual information that Niantic first has to organize through its player community or otherwise.

In mid-May, Google announced its cloud AR claim with a Geospatial API and a 3D rendering of Google Maps.

The two companies may be reunited to achieve their goals faster. There is a common history: Niantic was founded in 2010 by current CEO John Hanke as an in-house Google startup before becoming independent in 2015. Additionally, the success of Pokémon Go and Co. Also on Google Map services. Niantic can use operator-specific scans to provide detailed visual information at close range, while Google uses Street View to provide comprehensive guidance.

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