‘Pokémon Go’ Developer Niantic Wants to Map the World in AR

“Pokémon Go” developer Niantic wants to map the world in augmented reality with its players’ help, its chief executive recently told Reuters.

Building an “AR map” reliably and efficiently is apparently a problem tech companies like Google and Apple are trying to solve. Google Maps recently announced it’s getting an augmented reality street view mode that uses a person’s smartphone camera to help them follow directions in real time. Niantic is reportedly working on its own solution involving its users’ smartphone cameras.

“We want players to build out the game board they want to play on,” Niantic CEO John Hanke recently told Reuters.

While the “Pokémon Go” app can digitally place a Pikachu on a playground, having an AR map as a foundation would allow someone to build new virtual structures and share them with other players. Hanke told Reuters the company will start mapping public spaces like parks and plazas, but he didn’t say when it would start. He also didn’t say how the AR maps would function with Niantic’s games.

Niantic is reportedly working with Escher Reality on its digital mapping efforts. It acquired the Bay area startup in February. Escher Reality’s software allows developers to build augmented reality games that work on both iOS and Android devices. It also connects those devices together so users can engage in multiplayer sessions.

Hanke reportedly said Niantic will allow third-party developers to use its AR mapping technology, which industry executives predict could become part of a multi-billion dollar global business.

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