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Niantic enlists the help of Pokémon Go players to create an AR map

Niantic did not say how it would implement its AR map in games like Pokémon Go, but said the map is crucial to advanced AR apps.

Published onMay 9, 2018

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  • Niantic CEO John Hanke revealed plans to create an AR map with Pokémon Go players’ help.
  • The map would also be available to third-party developers and allow Niantic to create advanced AR apps.
  • However, folks might have concerns over their privacy and data rights.

In an interview with Reuters, Niantic CEO John Hanke said that Pokémon Go players will help create an AR map of the world that can enhance the game and other augmented reality apps in the pipeline.

According to Hanke, an AR map would enrich the “new kind of social activity” that Ingress and Pokémon Go fostered over the years. The map is also crucial to advanced AR apps that could give Niantic a leg up over the likes of Google, Apple, and startups that also want to efficiently collect and process data.

Current AR apps can digitally render certain items and properly scale them in the real world. With AR maps as the foundation, apps could eventually create an entire playground and allow others to view the same thing.

Hanke remained quiet on exactly how Niantic would implement AR maps in its games, including the upcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. One possible scenario would be for the app to identify your surroundings and generate a map as you play.

As other players join the same map, their devices’ cameras would continually feed information to the game to maintain that same map.

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Digital mapping will begin with public spaces, such as parks and plazas, though Hanke did not say when that would start. He did say that third-party developers can use its AR map for their own apps, but did not say if there would be limitations to the data sharing.

Those limitations could satiate those who might criticize Niantic’s digital mapping strategy over privacy and data rights concerns. Businesses might be more than happy to serve as PokéStops, but might not be as enthusiastic about a possible misuse of collected data.

We might hear more from Niantic about its AR map during the Pokémon Go Summer Tour 2018, which will hit Germany, the U.S., and Japan.

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