Niantic Lightship private beta aims to power next Pokemon GO

Niantic announced a new name and a new aim for their augmented reality platform this week. The Niantic Real World Platform is now called Niantic Lightship. This platform will be offered on a broader level with a Niantic Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit, AKA "ARDK". This new kit will be delivered in a Private Beta at first – if you're a creator of games, now's the time to act.

Niantic Lightship and the ARDK was made to enable developer to "build their own immersive, imaginative and unique AR applications." Thanks to the success of games like Ingress and Pokemon GO, Niantic developed this universe to bring about a future in mobile gaming that goes beyond the screen.

Niantic's ARDK works with Real-time Mapping, Semantic Segmentation, and robust Multiplayer functionality. With what Niantic describes as "advanced Meshing," smart devices take smart computing (ARDK's neural network) and expands on what's seen through a smartphone camera. Environments can be "mapped" in real time, "resulting in a machine-readable representation of the physical world."

Instead of using LiDAR scanners to do this, Niantic's decided to work with RGB color sensors that can be found in the vast majority of cameras in smartphones. Niantic notes that their "approach to meshing" incorporates the work of acquisitions including Matrix Mill and

Semantic Segmentation in Lightship allows the quick analysis of a space and application of characteristics to individual elements. Lightship knows that the sky is the sky, the ground is the ground, and that people are people. Virtual objects can "look, feel and move" in a space in as realistic a set of ways as possible.

The Niantic Augmented Reality Developer Kit works with tools that allow developers to bring next-level physics, depth, occlusions and semantic segmentation to their ideas and apps. Niantic wants creators to make multiplayer experiences that use what's been done with the bones of Pokemon GO to launch into the stratosphere.

To participate, developers will need to head over to Niantic dot dev, where they'll find the new Niantic Lightship ARDK and a sign-up process. Niantic will also suggest that users join their publishing group, and take a peek at the games they've already published, like Ingress, Harry Potter Wizards Unite, Catan World Explorers, and Pokemon GO.