Niantic Labs gives everyone the chance to get their hands on the technology behind Pokémon Go and Pikmin Bloom so that they can create their own augmented reality and “real-world metaverse” applications. Developers can start using the Niantic Lightship platform today. The company also announcement a $ 20 million investment fund to support developers who “share our vision of the real-world metaverse and contribute to the global ecosystem that we are building”.
Developers can use Ninatic’s toolkit to create real-time 3D mesh maps so that applications can understand the surfaces and topography of the world surrounding a device. Other APIs will help applications differentiate between different aspects of an environment, such as soil, sky, water, and buildings. The Toolkit also allows developers to build apps that allow up to five players to participate in the same AR multiplayer session, keeping all of their content and interactions in sync.
The tools are mostly free. Multiplayer APIs will be available for free for the first six months, regardless of the number of users of an app. After that, Niantic will charge a fee if the APIs are used in an app with more than 50,000 monthly active users.
Several notable brands participated in a private beta of the development kit, including Universal Pictures, PGA of America, and Warner Music Group. Coachella has created an AR experience that its festival-goers can experience next year. They will be able to see a large version of the Coachella butterfly land on the seven-story Spectra Rainbow Bridge Tower.
Meanwhile, Shueisha is working with developer T&S to bring characters from A play and other real-world manga with AR. This application will be available in 2022.
Niantic’s vision of the Metaverse is very different from the VR-centric future that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has in mind. In a blog post in August, CEO John Hanke suggested that the “real world metaverse” is about connecting the physical and digital worlds, rather than just existing as a virtual experience. With that in mind, his company has been working on AR glasses with Qualcomm for the past two years.
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