Niantic Launches Visual Positioning System for ‘Global Scale’ AR Experiences

Niantic’s new Lightship Visual Positioning System (VPS) will make it easier to interact with persistent and “world-wide” synchronized AR content on mobile devices.

Niantic launched Lightship at its developer conference this week, and you can see footage in the video embedded above showing some phone-based AR apps using its new features starting at 50:20. The system is essentially a new type of map that developers can use for AR experiences, with the goal of delivering persistent location-based content that’s synchronized for all users.

Niantic builds the map from scanned visual data, which Niantic says will provide “centimeter” accuracy when locating and orienting users (or multiple users, relative to each other) at a given location. . The technology is similar to large-scale visual positioning systems in active development at Google and Snap.

While the promise of the system is to work globally, it’s not quite there yet – since its launch yesterday, Niantic’s VPS system has approximately 30,000 public locations where VPS is available for developers. . These locations are primarily spread across six key cities – San Francisco, London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle – and include “parks, trails, landmarks, local businesses and more”.

To expand the map, Niantic has developed the Wayfarer app that allows developers to scan new locations using their phone, available now in public beta. Niantic has also launched an investigator program in the aforementioned six key launch cities to expedite the process.

“With a single image from the end user’s camera, Lightship VPS quickly and accurately determines a user’s precise six-dimensional location,” according to a Niantic blog post.

Scaling the VPS globally is a lofty goal for Niantic, but could improve mobile AR experiences that might seem to unlock much more interesting content with accurate maps pinning content to real-world locations.

You can read more about Lightship VPS on the Niantic blog.

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