For the AR Metaverse: Pokémon Go studio makes biggest company purchase to date
Pokémon Go studio Niantic buys start-up 8th Wall, expanding into the browser.
Founded in 2016, 8th Wall developed a WebAR-based AR interface. It's built to be platform agnostic, so it's not dependent on Android or iOS. According to 8th Wall, this makes it compatible with five billion smartphones. AR content can also be accessed directly in the browser without prior app installation.
In 2018, 8th Wall launched a cloud-based AR platform that allows developers, companies, and agencies to create, host, and publish WebAR content directly in the browser. Its users have created 50,000 AR experiences to date, thousands of them for well-known brands like Pepsi, Microsoft, Nike, Porsche, Netflix and many more.
Niantic acquires key WebAR pillar
Niantic plans to integrate the WebAR solution into its AR development platform Lightship, which launched in November 2021 and allows developers to use the same AR technologies as Niantic's AR games. For Niantic, it is the tenth and largest acquisition to date. The acquisition cost is not known.
With 8th Wall, the company secures the knowledge and technology to expand into the mobile web.
"Niantic now offers one of the most complete sets of AR tools to build the real-world metaverse," AR chief technology officer Brian McClendon wrote on the announcement. The AR platform is expected to continue as a standalone offering, despite the team's incorporation.
VR vs. AR: Only in Niantic's universe
Real-world metaverse is a term invented by Niantic and means a "healthy metaverse" that primarily relies on augmented reality and incorporates the physical world as opposed to a supposedly isolating virtual reality metaverse that Niantic chief John Hanke often describes as a dystopian nightmare.
However, this distinction is rather arbitrary and serves to disqualify other, broader metaverse concepts, particularly that of competitor Meta, which makes no such separation and includes both AR and VR in the metaverse vision.
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