Niantic’s Real-World AR Map Is Now Open To Developers

The company launches its Lightship VPS alongside a new social network.

Today marks the first day of Niantic’s inaugural Lightship Summit, an annual two-day event dedicated to its international community of AR (augmented reality) developers. The company kicked things off with a bang earlier this morning with a series of exciting announcements, including the official launch of its highly-anticipated Lightship Visual Positioning System, or “VPS” for short.

It was back in 2021 that the company made its Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit available to developers worldwide. During today’s event, Niantic officially launched its Lightship VPS, allowing developers to anchor their original AR experiences to specific locations throughout the real world and track both the position and orientation with “centimeter-level precision.”

Niantic accumulated scans from existing developers, surveyors, and players and used the data collected to begin constructing its AR map. Once enough data on a specific location has been accumulated, Niantic can activate it on Lightship VPS so developers can begin developing their own location-based AR experiences for said location. The system works to support Niantic’s Lightship SDK, which allows multiple users to access AR content simultaneously.

According to Niantic, all the system needs is a single frame from the user’s smartphone camera in order to pinpoint their specific location. Lightship VPS currently supports 30,000 locations across six major cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, London, and Tokyo. The company plans on expanding to 100 global cities by the end of the year.

To help support its growing community of AR developers, the company has launched a social network called Campfire. It’s here that users can discover new events, connect with players in their local area, and organize their own meet-ups throughout the real world. Campfire is currently available in Ingress. The company plans on expanding support to all Niantic experiences in the near future.

“There are the Niantic gaming communities that have already been formed all around the world, with tens of thousands of enthusiastic explorers. These local groups already exist,” said CEO John Hanke in a keynote speech. “We’re giving them a platform to better conduct their activities and … for players to find these groups. Basically, just providing some tools to make all this smoother and easier for these users.”

Niantic’s Lightship VPS will be available free for a limited time before switching to a paid tier system complete with monetization and distribution features. For more information on all of today’s announcements check out the official blog post here.

Image Credit: Niantic

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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