On the Metaverse track, tens of billions of dollars of unicorns are ready to come out. On November 23, “Pokémon Go” developer Niantic announced the completion of a $300 million financing, with a valuation of $9 billion. It’s just one step away from the tens of billions of dollars unicorn club. This round of financing was exclusively invested by Coatue, the world’s largest technology stock hedge fund, the king of TMT hedge funds, Gaodu Capital Coatue. The official stated in a statement that this round of financing will establish a metaverse based on the real world for users. Right now, technology giants have different routes into the meta universe. As a spin-off subsidiary of Google, Niantic also represents Google’s attitude towards Metaverse in a sense. In short, it is to use the real world as the base to bring the experience of the virtual world into the real world.
1 AR believer, the creator of Google Maps
Going back further, it is not difficult to find Niantic’s faith in the AR route.
NianticCEO John Hanke (John Hanke) is the founder of Keyhole (keyhole satellite imagery). In 2004, Google acquired Keyhole, a mapping company. After Hank joined Google, he founded Niantic Labs. Keyhole technology has laid the foundation for products such as Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Street View. On Google Maps, Hank developed the Ingress game in the form of games and exploration. In the future, it is the familiar phenomenon-level AR masterpiece “Pokémon Go”.
This is a home run after Niantic Labs split from Google in 2015. After the game went live, it immediately topped the iOS free list and bestseller list in the United States, and is still a frequent visitor to the top 10 bestseller lists in the United States and Japan. The popularity of “Pokémon Go” to a certain extent also means the rise of AR (augmented reality), and it also strengthens Niantic’s determination to use AR technology to improve the quality of human life. Unlike Facebook changing its company name to Meta to indicate its investment in VR technology, Niantic hopes to develop technologies that will bring people closer to the outside world. Unlike a completely sci-fi virtual world, AR technology can improve our experience in the real world, just like the development of human beings for thousands of years. In early November, Niantic announced that it would launch an AR development kit (ARDK) – Lightship, which aims to make it easier to build augmented reality experiences. This free, publicly available technology will help Niantic lay the foundation for its vision of a “real world meta-universe”. “At Niantic, we believe that humans are happiest when they are brought into the physical world in the virtual world.” Hanke said at the time.
2 to improve the real-world experience
Lightship ARDK can help developers create real-time 3D grid maps using smartphone cameras, as well as the occlusion function, allowing virtual objects to be occluded by objects in the real world. Relying on computer vision to explain which parts of the real world are sky, water, buildings, etc., so that they can respond to virtual objects accordingly, and support a multiplayer AR experience for up to five players. According to reports, Lightship ARDK will be free for all developers to use for the first six months. Starting in May 2022, Niantic will begin charging for apps with more than 50,000 monthly active users. In addition, Niantic also announced the establishment of a $20 million fund-Niantic Ventures. The fund will invest in companies that build applications that share a common vision for the virtual world of the real world and contribute to the global AR ecosystem we are building. “Niantic Ventures will co-invest in companies on the Lightship platform with other venture capital or angel investors. Niantic CEO John Hanke quoted his blog post in the live broadcast of the release plan, calling Metaverse a “dystopian nightmare.”
Even if the Internet giant Facebook changed its name to Meta and continued to promote a future dominated by VR devices, it tried to replace mobile phones with VR devices and become the next-generation traffic carrier. But imagine Niantic is another option: the people gathered together Metaverse, rather than completely immersed in the virtual world. From “Pokémon Go” to the launch of ARDK and the establishment of investment funds, Niantic’s development core points to “VR is going to die and AR will stand.” John Hanke has made it clear that he thinks AR will be more interesting and promising, no matter from the perspective of technology, reality or human nature. In the VR environment, people are isolated from other people in the surrounding environment and enter a completely virtual space. The technical purpose of AR is to enhance and optimize ordinary human behaviors such as going out, socializing, shopping, gaming, and entertainment. Unlike a completely virtual world, AR technology can improve our experience of the real world, just like the development of mankind over thousands of years.
3 Apple is very dissatisfied with Meta
If the meta universe is a digital space, then AR is definitely the first key to open this space. “Don’t talk about meta-universe, we call it AR.” Apple CEO Cook said in a recent interview. According to the latest supply chain news, Apple’s AR headset has completed the second phase of prototype testing and is expected to come out in the second half of next year as soon as possible. Cook believes that AR is a superposition of the virtual world and the real world. This approach does not distract people from the physical world, but strengthens the relationship and cooperation between each other. AR technology can enhance our dialogue and learning, and truly amplify the value of technology to people, rather than closing the real world. This concept is surprisingly consistent with John Hanke. On the other hand, Zuckerberg, who is also a technology giant, always believes that millions of people will participate in the virtual world and create content in the future, whether it is experience, space, virtual goods, virtual clothing, or help plan and introduce people to enter. Space and ensure its safe work, this will be a huge economy, and it will eventually become a reality. Facebook has frequently acquired VR game studios in the past few years, including Ready at Dawn, Sanzaru Games, Beat Games, Downpour Interactive and other studios under its command. These game companies have contributed to accelerating the construction of VR game content ecology. Facebook is also testing a VR social platform called “Facebook Horizon”. The platform allows users to create a virtual world, similar to the “Roblox” and ” My World.”
But whether it is AR or VR, whoever masters the new generation of interactive technology first is equivalent to getting a ticket for the new era. The rule that interactive technology determines the product era has long been verified countless times. With the continuous iteration and upgrade of AR equipment, we will get closer and closer to the envisioned meta-universe. It is reported that Niantic is making a real-world 3D map platform, and people can see a “real-world meta-universe” built on the basis of AR, which will also help promote the next revolution in the Internet. Perhaps, as the light wind station co-founder Tangrong Xing said: AR is a technical means, in essence, is to meet the demand, is to create something more valuable.
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