At Niantic, we think a lot about how to use AR to create unique experiences that enhance the world around you. Recently, we were able to bring this vision to life in brand new ways with “AR PLAYGROUND WITH NIANTIC” at Innovation Tokyo 2018. The event was hosted by the Mori Building at Roppongi Hills, Tokyo and ran from Friday, October 12 to Sunday, October 21. The theme centered around how AR transforms the way people experience a city. Niantic used its Real World Platform to create a number of brand new experiences that explored this idea, testing our assumptions about how we perceive the physical world and challenging our assumptions about the things we see and interact with as we go about our normal lives. The exhibits were viewed by more than 12,000 attendees.
Below is a brief summary of each demonstration project:
In the “Pokémon GO AR Garden,” we invited attendees to wander through a picturesque Japanese garden, searching for elusive Pokémon by sound alone. The demonstration used a smartphone paired with unique directional open-ear headphones created by our partner Ambie. As users explored the garden, they were able to hear the cries of of Pokémon emanating from very specific nearby locations. The directional audio allowed visitors to vector in on the Pokémon and eventually to capture them, all without relying on a visual guide. The open-ear headphones mixed the game audio with the natural sounds of Mori Garden, enhancing the beautiful ambience of chirping birds and flowing water. In the end, the experience demonstrated how augmented audio reality can alter one’s perception of public space without distracting from it.
On October 13, a select group of attendees got to experience the “Ingress Sound AR Game” after attending a preview screening of the Ingress anime at TOHO Cinemas in Roppongi Hills. Ingress Agents were directed through the shopping complex by AR “controllers” as they sought to capture dangerous Dark XM objects hidden through the area, all while being pursued by aggressive “Hulong Security” Agents (in real life) seeking to capture and ‘neutralize’ them.
The “Mori Garden Gym” utilized VR as well as visual cues and haptic feedback to allow visitors to realize the fantasy of many Pokémon GO fans of climbing to the top of a Pokémon GO Gym. The exhibit proved thrilling for many as they experienced the sensation of a climbing a narrow, winding staircase to reach the top of a Pokémon GO Gym, all without actually leaving the ground of the Roppongi Hills courtyard.
We also invited the attendees to get physical with “AR Roppongi x Ingress,” a new Ingress-themed exhibition that enabled attendees to view the entire Roppongi Hills neighborhood as a living, breathing Ingress battle with Portal and Control Fields flickering in and out of existence reflecting the real-life actions of Ingress Agents as the two competing factions struggled for control of the neighborhood. The demo was realized by combining an amazing table-top 1/1,000 scale 3D model of the area with overhead-mounted projection mapping and an additional, personalized overlay of data rendered via Microsoft HoloLens.
Finally, we allowed consumers to access the Niantic 3D AR demo “Codename: Neon” for the very first time. The demo was shown to a select group of press during the Niantic Real World Platform press event in June, but this was the first time consumers have ever been able to try it. The experience is a highly dynamic action game in which players must battle with other players, running, dodging and collecting energy. The project defines state-of-the-art AR gameplay with its low-latency, fast-paced multiplayer AR interaction.
While AR is still in its infancy, it was exciting to build these projects and to see consumers catch a brief glimpse of how the real-world can be enhanced with this technology. While some are enamored with the idea of replacing humans with machines or the notion of creating virtual worlds so realistic we may want to leave our own behind, we believe that the world around us and the people around us are more wonderful and exciting than anything that can be manufactured. It’s our goal to use technology to bring out the best in the people and places we interact with and to nurture the appetite for exploration and community that exists in all of us.