Blog
September 21, 2020
Augmented Reality meets Street Art: Niantic & Walls Can Dance in Hamburg

This year we partnered with the Urban Art Institute for the urban art festival "Walls Can Dance" in Hamburg, Germany. We sought to create a new type of experience. Where digital discovery, combined with social interaction and collaborative play, could allow people the chance to explore and interpret urban spaces and art in a new way. We are proud to have contributed to establishing Hamburg's south as a new hotspot of the urban art scene.

This year’s festival ran from September 7th to 12th, 2020, and international stars of the urban art scene came to the Harburg district of Hamburg to let the city’s first coherent open space gallery grow further. We supported the festival this year, so interested visitors were able to interact with the artworks in Niantic's smartphone games such as Pokémon GO. In this context, not only new visually stunning murals were created in Harburg but there were also urban art walks, street art workshops, a cinema screening and much more.

Rediscovering urban spaces with Augmented Reality

Discovering urban spaces and reinterpreting places - these are all facets of urban art. But nowadays, the discovery and appropriation of the city is increasingly happening in digital space. Since 2016, the mobile game Pokémon GO has been delighting millions of people around the world. The game lets players explore urban space in a playful way, and lifts the boundaries between the analog and digital worlds. So what do urban art and Pokémon GO have in common? That's what 15 interested participants were able to find out by going on on two tours with myself & Philip Marz, as we were joined by the participants and the organizers of Walls Can Dance. We loved the opportunity to show them Harburg, play Pokémon GO together and also learn exciting information about the respective artists and their works.

We transported the event into augmented reality by setting up virtual points of interest in our games at each of the newly created and already existing murals. Through the implementation of the points of interest in Pokémon GO, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Ingress Prime, players will continue to have the opportunity to virtually experience each artwork and explore special aspects of the city.

Among the artists who have given Hamburg's facades some new shine were Innerfields, Dave the Chimp and other German and international street artists. More about the Walls Can Dance Festival can be found at www.wallscandance.de.

We look forward to furthering the ties between Niantic and the cutting edge of art.

–Anne Beuttenmüller, Director of Marketing EMEA

September 2, 2020
Niantic’s Week Off for Employee Wellness

There’s no doubt that it’s been an unpredictable and challenging year. I’ve been inspired by the commitment of my fellow Niantics to bring players the best experiences possible, to foster social connection among players, and allow them to engage each other safely. It’s been an incredibly eventful summer, with a record-setting Pokémon GO Fest, new game features and updates across all our games, and the recent launch of the Niantic Planet Scale AR Alliance. Our teams across the globe have been working hard to adapt to the new normal and bring these experiences to life - all while working remotely.

Through this period, we also recognize the importance of the health and well-being of our employees. This is a challenging situation for a lot of people, and it’s more important than ever to invest in our mental health and wellness. To that end, we’re giving our employees the week of September 7 off to recharge, disconnect, and take time to care for themselves and loved ones. Taking this extra time off will help our teams rest and reset, and bring everyone more great experiences upon our return.

To support players during this time, we will have limited operations staff continuing to work - and we’re happy to share that we’ll be providing those Niantics with equivalent paid time off later in the year.

We appreciate your patience and understanding during this week. You might see our events and channels much quieter than normal, and that’s by design. We look forward to reconnecting with you soon.

–Maria Weaver, Chief People Officer

September 1, 2020
Introducing the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance: Bringing the Mobile Industry Together Towards the 5G Future of Consumer AR

Niantic

Launch Members Include Deutsche Telekom, EE, Globe Telecom, Orange, SK Telecom, SoftBank Corp., TELUS and Verizon.

At Niantic, we’re building a planet-scale augmented reality (AR) platform to enable experiences across mobile devices and AR wearables that will give people entirely new ways to interact with the world and the people around them. Creating the best AR experiences requires bridging content with high-performance devices and networks. We’re not going to do this alone, so today we’re introducing the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance that brings together mobile ecosystem leaders who are working together to define and push the state of AR experiences on 5G forward.

The Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance will make available exclusive 5G-ready AR content, and demonstrate consumer AR experiences that set the standard for what innovation means in a 5G world. The first global members of the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance include Deutsche Telekom, EE, Globe Telecom, Orange, SK Telecom, SoftBank Corp., TELUS and Verizon.

With the Niantic Real-World Platform, we're working to make AR experiences mirror the real world, and be shared by tens of millions of Niantic explorers around the world. The Planet-Scale AR Alliance aims to also accelerate this work, and the AR industry as a whole in its next stage of growth. Our advances in AR engineering have made platform features such as synchronous multiplayer and reality blending possible, and many more in the works.

Working closely with our mobile ecosystem partners gives us an opportunity to combine these innovations together with 5G capabilities like ultra-reliable low latency, enhanced mobile broadband, network slicing, and edge computing. Together, we’re building towards a shared goal of creating amazing real-world AR experiences that demonstrate the possibilities of 5G, and that work is well underway. This includes persistence of AR content in the real-world that can be experienced by others dynamically.

Industry collaboration is an important driver of consumer AR for the devices and networks of today–and those of tomorrow. We believe working together with a broad group of partners is the best way to develop and promote the adoption of consumer AR, while continuing to amaze Niantic explorers with great experiences. We’re excited to work with our launch members and progress future innovations together.

The Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance welcomes wireless carriers, device manufacturers, and other mobile ecosystem companies from across the smartphone and AR wearables industry to join. For more information, visit https://5g.nianticlabs.com.

Here’s what our partners had to say:

Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation, Deutsche Telekom: "Deutsche Telekom and Niantic Inc. combined their innovation power to showcase the world’s first mobile edge mixed reality multi-gamer experience in 2019. We are very excited now to build on that partnership in the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance to push AR forward and create more immersive, exciting, and entertaining 5G and edge-enabled gameplay experiences at planet-scale."

Sharon Meadows, Director of Propositions, Consumer, EE: "As the UK’s no.1 5G network and the UK’s best network for seven years running, having the ability to provide compelling AR content that unleashes the power of what 5G has to offer – will help us to evolve our best in class offering. With Planet-Scale AR, we will work with Niantic to drive and showcase 5G AR innovation, and look forward to bringing exclusive world class AR experiences to our EE 5G customers."

Jil Go, Vice President for Portfolio and Partner Management, Content Business Group at Globe Telecom: "When we launched our Pokémon GO partnership with Niantic in 2016, AR gaming was put on the mainstream map and became much celebrated as we hosted multiple player engagements including the first ever Pokémon GO Fest in the country. We are proud to level up the partnership as a member of the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance to drive bigger and better immersive gaming experiences powered by the groundbreaking Real World Platform. As the mobile market leader and pioneer in 5G technology, we are committed to work with Niantic to deliver more cutting edge customer propositions for both mobile postpaid and prepaid markets, best enjoyed using Globe 5G ultra fast and low latency connectivity."

Serge Laroye, VP, Orange Content and President of OCS, Orange: "Mobile gaming is really at the forefront of driving innovation for the entertainment industry. What we’ll develop with Niantic won’t just raise the bar in terms of new and immersive augmented reality gameplay experiences for our customers but it will also showcase the benefits that 5G, low latency and edge computing can deliver to businesses, which can easily be applied to other industries beyond mobile gaming."

Jeon Jin-soo, Vice President and Head of 5GX Service Business Division of SK Telecom: "SK Telecom is pleased to take part in building a global AR ecosystem through this collaboration with Niantic. SK Telecom has been leading 5G-based AR services in the Korean market based on world-class AR technologies accumulated over several years. This partnership with Niantic will allow users throughout the world to experience innovative AR services that go between reality and virtual reality."

Keiichi Makizono, SVP & CIO, SoftBank Corp.: "By joining the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance, SoftBank aims to provide sophisticated AR experiences that utilize the 5G services we launched earlier this year. It builds on the partnership work between both companies across the current Niantic games portfolio, and many live events, leveraging our robust network. We look forward to working closely with Niantic in this new capacity in service of our customers."

James Rooke, VP of Wireless Product Marketing and Value Creation at TELUS: "TELUS is excited to be working with Niantic to support the development of cutting-edge augmented reality technology as a part of the new Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance. Our award-winning wireless network is built to bridge digital divides and drive innovation. As we move into a 5G world, our 5G network is poised to bring amazing speeds, responsiveness, reliability and capacity, and Niantic, with their commitment to innovation in AR, will help us deliver a superior experience on Canada’s fastest wireless network."

Erin McPherson, Chief Content Officer for Verizon: "Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband Network will change the way we live, work and play. With ultra-fast network speeds and minimal latencies, 5G will completely change the gaming industry and bring never before seen capabilities to AR gaming. Our work with the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance, combined with the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband Network, makes the future of gaming a reality."

–The Niantic team