Niantic And Sony Are Partnering On Audio AR Technology

LinkBuds will immerse you in an incredible audio experience while keeping you connected to the real world.

Niantic flipped the mobile gaming world upside down back in 2016 when they launched their AR mobile app Pokémon GO and started a global craze that still maintains a loyal player base to this very day. But did you know that before there wasPokémon GO, Niantic launched a sci-fi-based AR game called Ingress Prime that used OpenStreetMap and Google Maps to create a citywide geocaching game of capture the flag?

Ingress Prime is now getting a serious update thanks to an amazing new partnership with Niantic and Sony that will blend Niantic’s real-world AR technology with Sony’s latest audio hardware, a wireless headphone called “LinkBuds,” to immerse players even deeper into a game that uses both the real world and a virtual world as a playing field.

LinkBuds have an odd donut shape that creates an incredible audio experience without shutting out the real world. It’s weird to say, but Sony’s LinkBuds headsets are designed to not be taken off, other than for charging or going to sleep. But it’s that unique design that makes them the perfect device for immersing you into any type of AR experience or AR mobile app games while, simultaneously, incorporating the sounds of the physical world.

In a recent video posted on the Niantic YouTube page, Archit Bhargava, Director of Product Marketing for Niantic talked about AR saying, “Most people think of images or creation of filters overlaid on the real world. That’s going to be a big part of the future. But this experience will be even more immersive when you tap into other senses such as sound.”

Even more exciting is that through this partnership, both companies will play a big role in accelerating new development efforts in the AR gaming field toward implementing a more immersive gaming experience combined with headphones like Sony LinkBuds.

In the world of Ingress Prime, there’s been a discovery of a mysterious resource simply known as XM. The origin of the resource is unknown, however. What we do know is that its existence can alter the fate of humanity. You must choose between being part of the “Enlightened” or being part of the “Resistance.” The Enlightened want to use XM to evolve humankind, while the Resistance looks to control XM and use it to enslave humanity. But what is XM? Why is it important and how do you harness its power? 

That’s for you to figure out!

More importantly, what will this merging of technologies do for AR in general? We’ve seen some incredible steps with audio AR over the years, such as the Bose AR sunglasses which were introduced during the SXSW in 2018. Even though Bose discontinued their AR sunglasses in 2020, there was still a lot of discussion of what audio AR could do for gaming, the workplace, or day-to-day life happening in the background with multiple companies.

There’s a lot of excitement building up around this new partnership and what it will do for AR mobile games such as Ingress Prime, Pokémon GO, and Pikmon Bloom, which are also owned by Niantic. 

Megan Quinn, COO for Niantic relayed that excitement when she tweeted, “Excited to partner with Sony on the launch of LinkBuds to provide immersive audio experiences for NianticLabs apps. Augmenting reality isn’t just about what you see, but also about what you hear. Audio AR is in the early stages and we’re leaning in.”

Ingress Prime is available for download now for both Apple and Android devices, while the odd-shaped Sony LinkBuds come in a dark grey or white and can be purchased on the Sony site for $179.99.

Feature Image Credit: Niantic x Sony

About the Scout

Bobby Carlton

Hello, my name is Bobby Carlton. When I'm not exploring the world of immersive technology, I'm writing rock songs about lost love. I'd also like to mention that I can do 25 push-ups in a row.

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