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Niantic Launches Lightship VPS for Web: Bringing the Real-World Metaverse to the Browser

Niantic announced the launch of Lightship VPS for Web, making the web an even more powerful place for augmented reality by bringing its visual positioning system (VPS) to the 8th Wall platform. This first-of-its-kind browser-based technology connects the real world with the digital one by anchoring WebAR content to locations and enabling virtual objects to interact with the space they are in. This makes the augmented reality experience feel more personal, more meaningful and more real, and gives users new reasons to explore the world around them.

Lightship VPS for Web transforms everyday locations into experiential destinations. The technology gives new meaning to locations by unlocking its digital twin which can be augmented to create an infinite amount of extraordinary experiences. This drives traffic to a specific location, such as a statue in a park or a storefront in a city, to delight and engage users in brand new ways that result in real world value. Using the 8th Wall platform, developers, agencies, and brands can create WebAR experiences which can only be engaged with at one location, strengthening the need to be at a certain place, or AR experiences that can be used at any number of VPS-activated locations on Niantic’s AR map, increasing the reach for this content. They can also create multi-location experiences such as AR scavenger hunts and geo AR games by combining a number of VPS-activated experiences within one project.

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“At Niantic, we believe that the real-world metaverse should get people exploring and connecting in the world around them,” says John Hanke, CEO of Niantic. “Bringing Lightship VPS to the Web is a critical step forward for AR, enabling developers to realistically fuse digital content to the real world with precision and persistence. The early demos from partners around the world are exciting to see and we know this is only the beginning. We can’t wait to see what location-based AR experiences our developer community will create with this new service.”

Developers today want to build immersive AR experiences rooted in real-world locations. To do so, they have to first understand exactly where their users are and what they’re looking at. Lightship VPS uses Niantic’s AR map of the world to anchor AR content with centimeter-level precision at locations worldwide. By bringing this powerful system to the 8th Wall platform, developers can now create VPS-enabled AR experiences with unprecedented accuracy and precision that work directly within the mobile browser, requiring no app to download.

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In addition to enabling next level location-based AR experiences, Lightship VPS for Web also gives WebAR developers, for the first time, access to the 3D mesh of a location for use in an AR scene. This game-changing capability enables developers to create WebAR experiences that make use of occlusion and physics and adds a greater level of interactivity between virtual objects and the physical world. This results in an immersive and realistic AR experience we have never before seen in the browser that can be accessed on any iOS or Android smartphone, including non-LiDAR enabled devices.

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“Today marks a major milestone for the web and augmented reality,” says Tom Emrich, Director of Product Management, 8th Wall at Niantic. “Lightship VPS unlocks extraordinary value for developers by offering them a new tool to create WebAR experiences that recognize not only where their users are in the world but also gives them access to relevant information to better integrate the virtual content with the place it is being experienced. This is another first for the browser, unlocked by Niantic’s 8th Wall platform, and makes WebAR feel more real, more personal and even more connected to the real world than ever before.”

Developers can add VPS-activated locations to Niantic’s AR map, or immediately make use of over 100,000 VPS-activated locations available at launch, to build their own location-based WebAR experiences. VPS-activated locations are not just streetscapes or public landmarks, but rather a collection of publically accessible places that include parks, paths, local businesses, and more. Built together, as a community, Niantic’s AR map is powered by scans of real-world locations from developers, surveyors, and players. The community has contributed millions of locations, photos, and scans, essential data that make it possible to serve localization with Lightship VPS. This level of detail ensures that users can confidently localize at a VPS-activated location, across various times of day, and seasons of the year. Developers can find, create, and develop with VPS-activated locations, including authoring and simulating their AR experience remotely, within the Geospatial Browser in the 8th Wall platform.

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