Talk to Wol, Niantic's AI-powered Owl
Niantic's new XR app takes you to the Redwood Forest to a talking owl. The app is available for smartphones and Meta's VR headsets.
Niantic has released a mixed reality experience for Meta's VR headsets as well as smartphones. However, this is not a game like Pokémon Go or Peridot, but an interactive learning experience about the Redwood Forest, a national park in California.
Looking into the forest from your living room
When users visit the website meetwol.com via their smartphone or Meta VR headset, they open a portal in their environment that leads to said forest. The little owl named Wol comes out of this portal into the "real world" and tells interesting stories about the Redwood Forest.
Wol uses artificial intelligence that makes it possible to have natural conversations with her. However, Wol only wants to talk about the Redwood Forest and always steers the conversation back to that topic when there are deviations.
Wol is a Case Story for Niantic's 8th Wall platform
Niantic explains in a blog post, that "the AI-enabled character, Wol, was created using Inworld AI, the developer platform for AI characters. The Inworld Engine is composed of several machine learning and character AI models that are designed to mimic human gestures, speech, safety, emotion, and memory. Inworld’s technology has been integrated with 8th Wall to power Wol’s distinct personality and contextual awareness within the experience."
With the application, Niantic aims to demonstrate the capabilities of the 8th Wall platform. The focus is on metaversal deployment. According to the company, this is one of the most powerful features of the platform. It allows developers to "build once and deploy everywhere — smartphones, computers, tablets, VR HMDs, and now mixed reality devices like Meta Quest Pro."
Yet, Wol is not the only example of what is possible with 8th Wall. Developers have created many more applications with the tool. There is an AR application for Lego Harry Potter, for example, in which users can make the brand's virtual play sets disappear with a magic wand. The Spatial Audio demo atomky demonstrates spatial sound in relation to the movements of a small robot.
Niantic's mixed reality application is a vivid example of the possibilities that AR brings in the form of portals.