Niantic Labs is one of the frontrunners when it comes to commercially available AR technology. In particular, their hit AR title, Pokémon GO, is one of the most popular mobile games in the world, raking in more than $900m in terms of revenue in 2020.
With that said, while Niantic Labs has a clear winner on their hands with Pokémon GO, it seems like they're not content to work on just a single project. Their CEO, John Hanke, for example, has talked for years about the potential of creating high-tech glasses with augmented reality capabilities since as early as 2017.
Fast forward to today and it seems like Hanke's one step closer to realizing his earlier vision.
Is Augmented Reality Via Eyewear Coming Soon?
Exciting to see the progress we’re making to enable new kinds of devices that leverage our platform... pic.twitter.com/yYglk4q89G
— John Hanke (@johnhanke) March 29, 2021
Earlier today, Hanke took to Twitter to show the world a rather intriguing image that seems to be teasing at the possibility of making AR technology more readily available via eyewear. In the said close-up view of the Niantic AR glasses, you can clearly see it take on the shape of conventional eyewear. It comes complete with lenses and even a small speaker.
So far, Niantic Labs have yet to clarify what route they intend to take with their AR glasses. It may be an audio-only augmentation. This would make the Niantic AR glasses similar in function to the Echo Frames powered by Amazon's Alexa. However, they could go the route of the Google Glass and HoloLens as well.
Either way, the possibility of making augmented reality more readily available by using AR glasses is very intriguing. This is especially if Hanke ends up collaborating with companies like Razer. The CEO of the Singapore-based tech company, Min-Liang Tan, opened up the possibility of the two companies doing a collab with Razer's Anzu smart glasses by replying to Hanke's earlier tweet.
With that said, Niantic's latest reveal seems like a culmination of all they've invested in over the past few years. For example, in 2019, Niantic announced that they will be working together with Qualcomm. The intention was to combine XR, 5G, and AI technologies along with their AR platform on an XR platform.
Around the same time, Niantic also demoed a version of Pokémon GO that runs on Microsoft's HoloLens 2 and the Microsoft Mesh platform.
What’s Next for Niantic Labs?
As of the moment, Niantic Labs has a lot of projects cooking. In addition to providing constant support to Pokémon GO in the form of community events and updates, Niantic is also working on multiple games based on other popular franchises.
Aside from Pokémon GO, Niantic Labs' other active AR titles include Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Ingress and Ingress Prime.
Niantic Labs is also currently working on another AR game in CATAN World Explorers that's based on the CATAN board games. Meanwhile, Niantic Labs 5recently announced that they'll be working closely with Nintendo again. This collaboration will involve working on multiple AR games based on existing Nintendo franchises.
Niantic Labs' first AR game for Nintendo will be a brand-new AR title based on Pikmin that's set to release sometime in 2021.