AR developer Niantic wants to map the world using your phone camera

Niantic, developer of Pokemon Go, wants to create a fully 3D map of the planet Earth using data captured from its millions of users’ phone cameras. Speaking to Reuters, the developer’s CEO John Hanke laid out his plans for 3D world domination. Such data will lead the way to a “new kind of social activity”, with players interacting on digital versions of real world landscapes.

“We want players to build out the game board they want to play on,” Hanke told Reuters. This game world could then be shared with other developers to help them create augmented reality experiences. At first, this will focus on parks and other public spaces, though from the report it sounds as if indoor spaces will follow. Which raises questions about users’ private data, with home interiors potentially being mapped and uploaded for use by developers. Or would-be burglars.

No word yet on when all this will start, but it appears Niantic is looking to make it a core part of its business, acting as a middleware provider for AR games and experiences in the future. An area of the industry that is expected to eclipse virtual reality once the technology finds a balance between size/weight and cost. Something that hasn’t yet happened in the VR space, but an area in which AR – which is already available in many people’s mobile devices which they use daily – is already entering. With Harry Potter: Wizards Unite already in the pipeline, it may not be long before we’re waving our wands at each other in our own bedrooms.

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