Another company that has been at the frontlines of the metaverse future is Niantic. Pokémon Go was one of the first games that embedded AR.
Niantic’s founder and CEO John Hanke wrote recently:
A lot of people these days seem very interested in bringing this near-future vision of a virtual world to life, including some of the biggest names in technology and gaming. But in fact these novels served as warnings about a dystopian future of technology gone wrong.
… As a society, we can hope that the world doesn’t devolve into the kind of place that drives sci-fi heroes to escape into a virtual one — or we can work to make sure that doesn’t happen…We believe we can use technology to lean into the ‘reality’ of augmented reality — encouraging everyone, ourselves included, to stand up, walk outside, and connect with people and the world around us. This is what we humans are born to do, the result of two million years of human evolution, and as a result those are the things that make us the happiest. Technology should be used to make these core human experiences better — not to replace them.
… Building the real world metaverse lies at the intersection of two major technical undertakings: synchronizing the state of hundreds of millions of users around the world (along with the virtual objects they interact with), and tying those users and objects precisely to the physical world.
… Although we expect games and entertainment to be key drivers for this new platform, reality channels are a way of seeing the world that will power more activities that entertain, educate, guide, explain, and assist us, from assembly lines and construction sites to the most complex knowledge work, all without taking us away from the thing we do best: reality
… The shift to the real-world metaverse represents a sea change in computing that’s as significant as earlier developments like personal computing, the internet, and mobile.
More from Hanke in an interview in Fast Company: “Our thesis as a company is that gaming will be one of the frontier technologies. [We] have this concept of reality channels—this idea of games that transform the world around you in an almost passive way that just enhances it and makes it more interesting, makes it more fun and [puts] some adventure and excitement into it. It’s almost like an Instagram filter that’s always on, basically with Pokémon Go-like embedded gameplay. That’s our vision of one of the transitionary applications as we go towards this idea of a real-world metaverse… The notion that you can just slap on a headset and shoot some photons into your eyes and somehow that takes the place of that whole-body experience that you have in the world—it’s false… Real social [is] designed to connect people who are far away—grandmas with their grandkids. We need that. That’s a wonderful thing that the internet can do for us. It’s a shame that that world has to now get confused with getting viral misinformation and weird political stuff. We don’t want to become that, and it probably doesn’t even make sense in AR, that media driver. We’re about talking to other people and making plans together.”