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November 6, 2019
The Niantic Real World Platform: Mapping, Sharing and Understanding Reality
Blog > The Niantic Real World Platform: Mapping, Sharing and Understanding Reality
November 6, 2019
The Niantic Real World Platform: Mapping, Sharing and Understanding Reality

From the early days, Niantic has set out to make the world - from our everyday commutes to our neighborhoods - even more engaging and interesting through the use of innovative technologies that blend the real and digital worlds. In fact, it was this vision that got me so excited to join this team a couple years ago and continue to build the future of immersive augmented reality.

Earth is, at its very essence, our gameboard and we have been building on this gameboard with the augmented reality (AR) technology of the Niantic Real World Platform.

Mapping Reality
To better understand and build upon the world that is our gameboard, we are collaborating with our players, businesses, and now external developers to build it with us.

For the past 8 years, we have worked collaboratively with our players to build the game board they play on. It’s the players who know the interesting and unique places in their towns and neighborhoods and through the Niantic Wayfarer program, players can now help build out their own gameboard. This program allows high-level players in our products to submit new locations, with photos, titles, and further information about the locations they want to see in the game that all players can enjoy.

With the help of our players, we’ve added more than 9.4 million user submitted locations to the Niantic Real World Platform and are now seeing an average of more than 1M additional Wayspot nominations per week.

As part of our efforts to expand the gameboard of the world, we’ve also introduced the small business program which gives small and medium sized businesses an opportunity to add sponsored locations to our games. You can find more about this program here.

Sharing Reality
As our players embark on adventures together, we have been experimenting with ways multiple players, on separate devices, can place and interact with digital objects in the same space leveraging real-time AR networking. We built out some test cases like Codename: Neon and Codename: Tonehenge to showcase the possibilities.

We’re in the process of turning these concepts into reality with the first ever multiplayer integration in Pokémon GO called Buddy Adventure (working title). This new feature is a shared AR experience at its core.

The Pokémon GO Buddy Adventure feature will not only allow you to interact with your own Pokémon via the AR camera, it will also provide Trainers with a shared experience of seeing their real world friends interacting with their Buddy Pokemon in real time. Buddy Adventure is also cross platform, so whether your friends are on an iPhone or Android device, you will still see them when the feature is enabled. Trainers worldwide can look forward to Buddy Adventure coming to Pokémon GO in the months ahead.

This new multiplayer feature is a step towards the realization and one of the first consumer implementations of multiplayer AR experiences beyond a tabletop.

Understanding Reality
At Niantic, we are pushing the technological boundaries to enable experiences that haven’t been addressed yet. One illusion-breaking shortcoming of the current state of AR visuals we’re looking to solve is the lack of occlusion, or the ability of your AR subjects to move behind objects, either partially or completely. But there’s more to an immersive AR experience than simply avoiding breaking an illusion - adding the concept of depth allows characters to understand their environment and act more naturally. Occlusion utilizes powerful computer vision where AR elements understand and interact with the real world and objects within them.


Niantic has been working on the implementation of this technology for some time, and we’re excited to announce that it will be coming to the Niantic Real World Platform.

Being able to share the Real World Platform with more developers is the realization of a dream we’ve had since the earliest days of development - to make Earth an AR Gameboard that allows developers to bring their creative visions to it. We believe AR will be the medium of tomorrow; transforming how people interact with the world, and each other.

Building on the Platform
We have recently begun to open up the Niantic Real World Platform to additional developers to build upon and we’re excited to share some of the incredible first results. In addition to collaborating closely with WB Games on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, we opened up the platform to developers around the world earlier in the year as part of the Niantic Beyond Reality Developer Contest.

The winning development team, JC Soft, a talented family team, put together a truly creative and engaging AR experience with “Run to My Heart” that captures the imagination.

Here’s a sneak for you:

In addition, the Niantic Creator Program will continue to build on our vision of empowering creators to develop innovative new AR experiences on the Niantic Real World Platform. We’ll also be supporting third party developers via the Niantic Beyond Reality Fund which will help bring innovative AR concepts to life.

You can read (and see!) more about these projects built on the Niantic Real World Platform as part of the Beyond Reality Contest and get more details on the Niantic Creator Program here.

We’re looking forward to building the future of AR experiences together with you!

—Diana Hu, Director of AR Platforms

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