UPDATED 13:40 EDT / MAY 24 2022


Niantic releases the Lightship Visual Positioning System and AR Map

Niantic Inc., the developer of the popular augmented reality game “Pokemon Go” and the Lightship AR platform, today released the Lightship Visual Positioning System for developers, with more than 30,000 public locations for apps to use dynamic AR mapping.

The company also unveiled Campfire, a social application for Niantic’s “real-world metaverse” that connects its games and allows players to discover other people, communities, experiences and events as part of a social network.

These announcements were made at Niantic’s first-ever Lightship Summit in San Francisco, a two-day conference focused on the company’s global community of AR developers.

Lightship VPS’ “visual positioning” enables developers to determine the position and orientation of users in order to anchor AR content with centimeter-level precision within the maps generated by Niantic. That allows them to make even more immersive AR content than before.

Augmented reality works by using a camera on a mobile device to create a “window” into the world where virtual objects can be projected onto what the user can see. Those objects then appear to be part of the world, as if they’re sitting on tables, bouncing off walls, moving through the air or disappearing behind trees and even buildings.

“For many of us, the real promise of AR has been this opportunity to bring the digital world together with the real world, to marry the atoms with the bits,”  said John Hanke, chief executive of Niantic. “That requires precise 3D mapping so that it can just work and for users to have an experience that’s simply magical.”

This is why building maps for Lightship VPS was so important. In order to allow large-scale AR experiences where objects can account for real-world locations, they needed to be scanned. Scans are done with short video snippets collected by Niantic developers, surveyors and players. This data was then processed into a detailed AR map of the world.

Today, Niantic has created VPS maps for over 30,000 locations with good density in six key cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London and Tokyo. Developers using VPS in these locations get more than simple access to AR for streetscapes and public landmarks, but also any publicly accessible places such as parks, paths, landmarks and local businesses.

These locations represent only a fraction of the total locations mapped by players already and through their ongoing use of apps. As a result, Niantic’s servers will continue to crunch the data as it flows in to expand the VPS maps even further in the coming months to grow the coverage as fast as possible.

VPS-activated locations aren’t just single points on a map, but localizable areas around 10 meters in diameter composed of multiple scans with a large number of details. As a result, no matter where users are pointing their cameras, as long as they are within the radius, the app will be able to localize hyper-accurately.

Developers interested in building with VPS can register for an account today and download the Lightship augmented reality development kit. The ARDK works with iOS, Android and Unity, with a VPS template designed to get developers up to speed quickly.

As Niantic developers build even more exciting apps in its real-world metaverse, it will become ever more important for users to be able to discover and access them. That’s the purpose of Campfire, which will act as a real-world social network that begins with a map and acts as a “homepage” for that metaverse where players can discover other players in their local area, message them and share content.

This way, players engaged in Niantic games and apps can organize their own events and meetups to form their own social connections that happen virtually in the real world as well as using the power of augmented reality.

Before the pandemic, this happened more often when players would gather together to capture pokemon, the collectible creatures in Pokemon Go, or take control of gyms, real-world locations that rival teams battle over. Niantic is hoping that as the pandemic eases and these sorts of experiences slowly become the norm again, Campfire will facilitate organizing these sorts of events among players.

Campfire is now live in Niantic’s game “Ingress” and will be coming soon to all of its apps and experiences.

Image: Niantic

A message from John Furrier, co-founder of SiliconANGLE:

Your vote of support is important to us and it helps us keep the content FREE.

One click below supports our mission to provide free, deep, and relevant content.  

Join our community on YouTube

Join the community that includes more than 15,000 #CubeAlumni experts, including Amazon.com CEO Andy Jassy, Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, and many more luminaries and experts.

“TheCUBE is an important partner to the industry. You guys really are a part of our events and we really appreciate you coming and I know people appreciate the content you create as well” – Andy Jassy