John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, gave a talk at GDC 2019, entitled «The State & Future of AR Games: Rose-Colored Glasses». That, translated into Spanish, would be something like ” Current and future state of the games of Augmented Reality: an optimistic look “. The video of the talk (which have a 56 minute address) is well worth it. That’s right: it’s in English, so we’ll summarize the main points for all the people who might be interested.
Since childhood, Hanke has been fascinated by the fold-out maps that sometimes came with the National Geographic magazine. That fascination led him to his current purpose: to expand the real world with Augmented Reality App Development technology. And for that, I would turn to Niantic.
Niantic has popularized, in recent years, the Augmented Reality through games such as Ingress and Pokémon GO. But the real work of the company is behind all that, being the development of the Real World Platform of Niantic. This platform is a key element in the future of the AR that develops Niantic: a future in which people do not use smartphones but glasses. To give you an idea of the importance that Niantic gives to this development, the team of the Real World Platform is the same size as that of Pokémon GO is the best AR Oyunlar.
AR Advanced and accessible games
One of the most important elements of the Platform is the Advanced AR. Something that Hanke described as the “meeting point” between Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore technology.
The Advanced AR would consist of a series of technologies that would allow the experiences of immersion to be taken out of the exclusivity of some platforms. According to Hanke, Niantic would be investing many millions of dollars in the development of this technology, in the hope that it will allow them to sell their Platform as a product of great interest.
They consider that the “popularization” of the AR (already with all the best technologies and amenities) would allow “accessible games” to be offered to the market, covering a large demographic segment (much larger than that of common games) and with the following characteristics:
- 41% of players (women).
- Retention greater than 30%.
- Daily game.
- Long-term retention
Hanke, nevertheless, warned that the AR will have to face new problems: the stigma of going out to play with the mobile, aspects such as ergonomics or the obstacles and barriers of the real world.
According to Hanke, the AR as we know it today is little more than a joke compared to what is to come. The AR v2 will go much further: it will connect objects created by the AR (bits) with physical elements that actually exist (real world atoms).
Hanke describes three fundamental pillars of AR v2:
Mapping reality: The AR is facing a bigger problem than traditional games, since the terrain that must map and scan is, no more, no less, the real world. Therefore, sometimes artificial intelligence will encounter environments and contexts that undergo constant changes. The solution is because the mapping is done in real time. This is an example of how the Niantic software interprets moving objects in a street:
Understanding reality: increasing reality is only possible with a large network of fast information, monitoring dynamics and platforms working together. The 5G would be the spearhead that would open the way to this new reality and Niantic is already working at the moment with various companies to see how the 5G can improve or benefit their products.
Hanke referenced the following video to imagine how the future of the AR could become:
However, Hanke warned that the vision of the creator (Matsuda) is negative and that it should not be the AR experience that we end up having. For Hanke, the AR must help us understand the world and not force us to install AddBlock in our AR glasses.