Augmented Reality (AR) specialist Niantic Labs has created some of the most popular titles to use the technology, including Pokemon GO, Ingress Prime and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. But it seems the company isn’t purely interested in software with a recent Tweet from CEO John Hanke teasing a pair of glasses.
With just a singular image to go on Niantic Labs is either in the process of making its own AR glasses or a more basic pair of smart glasses. The former would be along the lines of Nreal Light with spatial and hand-tracking capabilities, whilst the latter would provide a simpler heads-up display providing digital information in a users vision. From Hanke’s comment regarding “devices that leverage our platform”, meaning the Niantic Real World Platform which all of its videogames are built on, this device could well be a fully-fledged pair of AR glasses.
This would be a very big step for the company considering the AR hardware market is very much in its infancy. That’s set to change this year with glasses coming to market which attaches to 5G capable smartphones to run apps and view entertainment content. Recently, Qualcomm unveiled its XR1 AR Smart Viewer Reference Design helping OEMs reduce the time it takes to bring AR glasses to market.
Niantic Labs device could very well use this reference design or be leveraging a completely unique design. The lens looks very thin and compact, there are holes underneath which could indicate a speaker and then there’s the snazzy fabric logo running down the arm. It looks quite stylish at any rate, a factor the industry has been trying to tackle to push the technology mainstream.
This isn’t the first time Niantic Labs has publically showcased a desire to expand beyond smartphone AR gaming. During Microsoft Ignite at the beginning of March, the two companies showcased Pokemon GO working on HoloLens 2. Only a proof-of-concept, the demo saw Hanke wander around a garden, interacting with Pokemon like Pikachu by giving them some fruit.
Hopefully, this initial tease turns out to be Niantic Labs stepping into AR hardware and the possibility of playing Pokemon GO without having to constantly stare at your phone screen. For further updates, keep reading VRFocus.