Lightship: the Real World Metaverse

Niantic, the company that developed Pokémon Go, launched a development kit focused on augmented reality, trying to promote that the Metaverse(Lightship), is not based exclusively on bringing real-life to be digital, if not the other way around.

From Niantic, they believe that the future is based on being able to include technology in our real-life together with our day-to-day to improve our lives and not abstract from them.

To do this, they propose augmented reality as the technology that brings us closer to the future.

Moreover, Niantic opened up its Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit (ARDK) to guide developers on the path to creating immersive AR experiences inspired by movement, exploration, and shared experiences.

The Lightship AR Developer Kit brings together real-time mapping technology and shared multiplayer experiences, semantics, and depth for more realistic AR experiences.

ARDK is designed to develop augmented reality experiences for Android and iOS mobile platforms and integrates directly into Unity.

Introduction to Lightship

Niantic launches Lightship with a focus on empowering creators to seamlessly and realistically bring content and virtual experiences into the real world.

Niantic Lightship serves millions of users through a client platform that uses segmented semantics, mapping, and multiplayer to create a standard for augmented reality.

As part of our long-term vision for Lightship ARDK, Niantic builds a 3D map of the world using our Visual Positioning System (VPS) and advanced tools to power an entirely new type of contextual content on a global scale to find the world where it is at the moment.

What can be achieved with Lightship ARDK?

  • Real-time mapping
  • Create persistent and realistic experiences.
  • ARDK’s mesh function translates the colors produced by the user’s camera, runs them through a neural network, and builds a mesh of tessellated triangles that create a machine-readable representation of the physical world.
  • Your app has a real-time and persistent map to create realistic AR interactions with this feature.
  • For example, “physics” can be enabled where a user can throw a ball and have it bounce off a wall and off a table.

Meshing works best at a range of 5 to 10 meters, so it’s not designed for large-scale augmented reality experiences; improvements to mesh rate, latency, resolution, and stability will be available in future releases.
It is recommended for iPhone 8 and above and high-end Android devices released after 2018.

Multiplayer Functionality

Unlock a world of powerful social use cases for an app. From game creation to scavenger hunts, multiplayer enables AR experiences to go from single-user gaming to multi-user social sessions.

Peer-to-peer messaging with a server and back-end and other useful server-side features are being added (for example, a synchronized clock and a persistent win database).

While 8 players are the maximum possible users, optimal multiplayer experiences are shared between 2-3 users in a 1-5 minute session due to processing requirements.

Semantic Segmentation

Create Augmented Reality experiences without being an expert in artificial vision or distributed systems.
Lightship classifies outdoor natural objects that a user scans (such as the ground and sky), enabling augmented reality content interactions on specific surfaces.

For example, using ”sky” segmentation, you can create an experience where large AR objects are displayed on the horizon, properly occluded by buildings, trees, and other terrestrial objects.

Current segmentation includes sky, ground, artificial ground, water, buildings, and foliage (more to come). They are recommended for iPhone 8 and above and high-end Android devices released since 2018.

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