Since the launch of Pokémon Go in 2015, players have been coordinating meetup in-game raids and battles on platforms like Reddit and Discord. This summer, its parent company, Niantic, unveil Campfire is a social app designed to help mobile augmented reality (AR) gamers connect.
Niantic’s games encourage people to use technology to meet other people. That’s why we call Niantic’s AR development “the real metaverse.” Campfire wants to make this easier (or provide an alternative to long-running Pokémon Go Discord servers) and become the “homepage” for this tech reality. Following on from the map-based social platform Snapchat, the app also includes the ability to connect with people, find events around you, join a community, and send messages to people. Users can also share their location with friends (don’t share with strangers!).
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The next step in the mission to build a “real metaverse”, Campfire is part of the new AR offerings unveiled today, including Niantic’s much acclaimed Lightship VPS or virtual positioning system.
Over the years, Niantic has invited Pokémon Go and Ingress users to scan local landmarks, and even provided in-game incentives for this crowdsourced data. Short video snippets of real-world locations are then verified by the developer and then processed to become part of the world AR map. At launch, Tory Smith, Niantic’s head of mapping products, said San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, London and Tokyo were the most densely mapped. By the end of this year, Lightship VPS will be available in over 100 global cities. Thanks to Niantic’s recent 8th Wall acquisition, these features are also available on mobile web browsers.
Lightship VPS allows users to scan their location and the VPS can determine their location almost like GPS (the product name nods its head). Of course, GPS shows you where you are and your surroundings, but VPS shows you a user-generated experience designed to enhance the real world experience by adding another layer.
The Lightship VPS feature is now available to AR developers through Niantic’s Lightship AR Developer Kit.