Pokémon Go developer Niantic has acquired augmented-reality mapping company 6D.ai and says it is “even closer to an AR platform that will unlock the ability for any developer to make content for current and future AR hardware”.
6D.ai – which was founded in 2017 and “spun out” from Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab – builds developer tools that “solve fundamental AR problems, such as 3D reconstruction and AR persistence”.
“These and many other AR features are important parts of the Niantic experience, in service of our player and developer communities, both now and those who we’ll work with in the future,” explains Niantic. “For the people who play our games today, it means more beloved AR experiences to come, and for our developers, an innovative platform to bring their AR visions to life.”
Niantic has not specified the terms nor the cost of the deal.
“We’ve just scratched the surface of the impact that AR can have on our connection to the people and places around us,” wrote CEO John Hanke. “Imagine everyone, at the same time, being able to experience Pokémon habitats in the real world or watch dragons fly through the sky and land on buildings in real-time. Imagine our favourite characters taking us on a walking tour of hidden city gems, or friends leaving personal notes for others to find later.
“From the beginning, we set out to infuse our daily lives and routines with a bit of fun and adventure by building an augmented world that parallels the physical one by building an augmented world that parallels the physical one,” Hanke continued. “This bold pursuit requires significant advancements in AR technology that can only be made possible with an accurate and constantly updated 3D map of the real world. Now, we’ll be able to leverage 6D.ai’s deep expertise and significant breakthroughs in AR research and engineering to further our ongoing work in support of our mission.”
Niantic has already made changes to the game to enable players to continue participating even whilst in self-isolation. Pokémon Go has long been touted as a healthy game that enables people to participate in video games whilst remaining active but light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the developer has announced changes to curtail mass gatherings and enable people to keep playing even at home with shorter Pokémon Eggs hatch times, more PokéStops rewards, and boosted Pokémon spawn rates.
The company also recently sent a further message to its community to explain how its games and live events have been adapted to accommodate isolation and lockdown in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.