Niantic and Sony announce collaboration in the area of auditory Augmented Reality for headphones

In Augmented Reality News 

February 16, 2022 – Niantic, Inc., developer of Pokémon GO and provider of augmented reality (AR) technologies, and Sony Corporation have announced that they are working together to combine Niantic’s real-world AR technology with Sony’s audio technology in the area of auditory AR for headphones.

Through this contract, the two companies will combine their technologies, with an aim of implementing a gaming experience through headphones that features auditory AR, rather than just a visual AR component. The companies also plan to collaborate together on the development of application software for auditory AR, as well as for promotion activity in the auditory AR field.

Setsuto Murai, Vice President, Niantic, Inc., said: “Sony is a global brand with a wide range of audio products, and excellent audio technology. By combining Sony’s audio technology with Niantic’s AR technology, we believe that we can offer a new level of AR experience, beyond just what you can see. We look forward to providing a more immersive AR experience in the real world.”

According to the companies, the goal of the partnership is to “provide people with an unprecedented AR experience.” The first part of the initiative will see Niantic and Sony work together on Niantic’s AR game ‘Ingress’, which is planned for release in 2022, to create an even more immersive AR and sound experience. More details on this will be announced later in the year, according to Niantic.

Sony added that it is currently developing products and technologies that will allow users to enjoy the sound of the virtual world from headphones while capturing the sounds of the real world. One such product is Sony’s new ‘LinkBuds’ headphones, which were announced yesterday by the company.

Sony Electronics’ new LinkBuds wireless headphones (white version shown)

The LinkBuds link the wearer to the real and the virtual world for a “Never Off” wearing experience, and have been created with a unique open ring design that lets users tune into the outside world, without compromising the listening experience, according to Sony. The newly-developed ring driver unit features an open central diaphragm for audio transparency, so wearers can simultaneously use the headphones whilst staying connected to their surroundings.

Commenting on the partnership, Hiroshi Nakamura, Head of Mobile Product Business Division, Home Entertainment & Sound Products Business Group, Sony Corporation, said: “We are very pleased to start collaborating in the AR field of sound with Niantic, which highly values the role of sound in the AR gaming experience.” 

Nakamura added, “By linking Sony’s Spatial Sound technology with Niantic’s game content, we aim to deliver astonishing experiences that fuse reality with games through headphones. We look forward to various future initiatives to enrich the experience of headphones such as the new product, ‘LinkBuds,’ announced by Sony.”

For more information on Niantic and its augmented reality technology, click here. For more information on Sony and its audio solutions for augmented reality through its ‘360 Reality Audio’ offering, click here.

Image / video credit: Sony Corporation / Niantic / YouTube

About the author

Sam Sprigg

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.