June 1, 2023 – Niantic, a provider of augmented reality (AR) technologies and the creator of Pokemon GO, has announced at AWE USA 2023 today a series of major updates to Lightship ARDK and 8th Wall platforms for developers.
With Lightship ARDK 3.0, Unity developers can now seamlessly mix and match Niantic’s AR features with Unity’s AR Foundation and XR subsystems. This means for the first time since the launch of Lightship ARDK, developers can use Niantic’s features in combination with existing AR Foundation libraries.
Additionally, this new integration will make it easier for developers to override or extend XR Settings so that they can easily add advanced AR features to basic AR concepts. This will enable developers to mix and match the AR features they want from Semantic Segmentation, Occlusion, Meshing, Mapping and Shared AR, according to Niantic.
Lightship ARDK 3.0 also sets the stage for compatibility with wearable headsets. Starting with Snapdragon Spaces-powered devices later this year. At AWE, the company announced in partnership with Qualcomm, the first cohort of ten AR companies who will have access to Lightship VPS with Snapdragon Spaces to bring Niantic’s precise, persistent 3D map of the world service to XR headset development.
Lightship Maps for Unity
In addition to ARDK 3.0, Lightship Maps for Unity will allow developers to utilize the same base maps that Niantic uses for its own AR games. The updated Lightship Maps SDK will allow developers to connect their existing and new games and applications to the real world and provide missions and game mechanics that leverage the company’s world map.
8th Wall Extends to XR Headsets
For WebAR developers, the 8th Wall platform’s Metaversal Deployment to build once and deploy everywhere now supports mixed reality headsets starting with the Meta Quest Pro and the Meta Quest 2.
8th Wall’s Metaversal Deployment solution was designed for a new responsive web where immersive websites need to adapt to a device ecosystem that now includes flat screens and wearable headsets. One of the key benefits of Metaversal Deployment according to the company, is that it allows users to access the same AR-enabled website on any device and have a meaningful experience, such as 3D on computers, AR on mobile, and mixed reality on passthrough capable devices. This in turn will give developers the widest reach possible for the content they have created.
In a keynote address, Niantic SVP of engineering, Brian McClendon, shared Niantic’s updated tools for both Lightship ARDK (3.0) and 8th Wall, and talked about the company’s vision for more open, cross-device development opportunities to build AR experiences anywhere, from mobile phones to mixed reality headsets.
Advancing the Use of GenAI and AR through Niantic Innovation Labs
In March, Niantic began the first cohort of developers exploring the possibilities of genAI and WebAR. Those developers took the stage in the Niantic Lounge at AWE to talk about their experience and showcase their projects. The company also extended its Niantic Innovation Labs program to a second cohort of developers focused on mixed reality headsets and WebAR.
Niantic noted that its vision for empowering AR everywhere means that it will continue to build the features and functionality of its developer tools and platforms with Lightship and 8th Wall, as well as further build out the company’s AR map of the world. Additionally, Niantic stated that it will continue to expand cross-platform development tools to ensure developers have the best open, cross-platform tools and services available to build their own AR and location based real-world digital experiences.
For more information on Niantic and its Lightship and 8th Wall platforms, and other augmented reality tools for developers, please visit the company’s website.
For developers looking to learn more about building with Lightship, please visit Lightship.dev.
For developers looking to learn more about building with 8th Wall, please visit 8thwall.com.
Image credit: Niantic
About the author
Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.