Even though augmented reality is firmly in the here and now, there still isn't much good software that supports it. Apple has made some decent strides by providing app developers with access to their ARKit foundation, but the biggest names in the AR market, for better or worse, are still apps like Pokemon Go or even Snapchat — possibly because they provide users with the most straightforward AR experience. Still, Niantic wants to see the tech blossom, so the mobile development giant has acquired Escher Reality, a startup that specializes in augmented reality technology.
As stated in a press release from Niantic, Escher's contributions will focus on "the intersection of digital and physical worlds" as well as computer vision. From what can be seen, it seems like one of the bigger capabilities available in Escher Reality's software library is a particular emphasis on the ability to build, maintain, and share persistent AR-based worlds. According to the release, Escher's tech will speed up Niantic's own work on expansive AR worlds:
"The addition of the Escher AR technology is incredibly exciting to us at Niantic as it significantly accelerates our work on persistent, shared AR as part of the Niantic real-world application platform. It’s our intention to make our cross-platform AR technology available more widely to developers later this year. Stay tuned for information on developer availability."
With this sort of technology on hand, Niantic may be able to create a fluid digital environment that users all over the world could interact with. The general goal, it seems, would be to create an entirely augmented world for users to enjoy, one that would only be accessible through a certain app or game — something like, say, the upcoming reboot of mobile AR title Ingress. We don't yet know just what Niantic has in mind for the new technology, but the possibilities of a bigger and bolder AR-based world are certainly exciting.