Niantic, creator of the popular outdoor game, Pokémon GO wants to take the users’ augmented reality (AR) experience to the next level by launching AR glasses. In an interview with Wired, Niantic CEO John Hanke discussed his vision of the future of AR technology to make the real world a better place, contrary to Meta’s (former Facebook) idea of creating a completely digital matrix “metaverse” which is Hanke’s dystopian nightmare.
Referring to life during COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing, Hanke expressed that its human nature to be outdoors and socialize and the absence of those elements creates anxiety and depression. Thus, he completely rejected Facebook’s (now called Meta) concept of metaverse because “it takes us away from what fundamentally makes us happy as human beings.”
Here is why Niantic’s AR glasses will be better than Apple, Snap, and Facebook
Niantic is not the first company interested in creating AR glasses to converge real-life with a digital world and allow users to carry out tasks like answering calls, sending texts, and more without touching their smartphones.
- In 2016 Snapchat launched the first generation of ‘Spectacles’ its AR glasses which looked like sunglasses and had a single camera that allowed users to capture photos and videos. Now, the company has unveiled fourth-generation Speticales to offer a completely immersive AR experience.
- Oculus by Meta (Facebook) is a virtual reality (VR) headset for digital gaming and entertainment and in partnership with Rayban, it recently launched smart glasses that enable users to capture photos and videos with the two onboard 5 MP cameras, listen to music, and take phone calls, and share photos using voice commands paired to an iOS and Android smartphones. Now the company wants to pursue an ambitious goal to create a metaverse to teleport users from the real world into an AR/VR mixed world via avatars.
- Apple is also exploring AR technology. It has introduced LiDAR scanners in iPad Pro and iPhone 12/13 Pro models that allow users to have an AR experience. Reportedly, the Cupertino tech giant is working on AR glasses which will be worn throughout the day and will be able to carry out various iPhone functions like getting directions, making or receiving calls, sharing media, and more.
However, Niantic’s expertise in AR sets it apart from these companies and gives it a competitive advantage. What others are trying to create, Niantic already offers via Pokémon GO, an AR game that takes players outdoors to capture creatures in the wild on their smartphones. Thus, its AR glasses take that experience to the next level by allowing users to do more than just play games, it will let them make their surroundings pleasant and enjoyable.
Niantic is hard at work too. It has developed Lightship, a software platform for augmented reality apps like Pokémon Go, for both internal projects and the creations of others. Early developers include Historic Royal Palaces, Coachella, and Led Zeppelin.
The next goal is to map the entire physical world to better integrate it with digital objects. “Think of it as kind of a GPS but without the satellites and with a higher degree of accuracy,” wrote Hanke. (The secret: Players of Pokémon Go and other Niantic apps can scan real-world “wayspots” with their phones during gameplay.) Those tuned to the proper “reality channel” will experience their location’s alter ego, which may blast them to the past, rocket them to a possible future, or anything in between.
All of this will eventually happen just centimeters from your retina. This fall, Niantic also announced the finalization of its open source blueprint, cocreated with the chip giant Qualcomm, for augmented reality glasses that’ll let people mingle what they see naturally with a kaleidoscope of make-believe things. This puts it in competition with Facebook, Snap, Apple, Microsoft, and other firms striving to put their realities on eyeglass frames. – Wired