Niantic, a pioneer in mobile augmented reality gaming, is chewing on getting games like Pokémon GO off smartphones and on smartglasses, and looks like he’s taking matters into his own hands.
After reviewing a proof of concept of Pokémon GO on HoloLens 2 earlier this month, Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke shared a cropped photo of a pair of smartglasses with the company’s wordmark on the temple on Monday.
“Exciting to see the progress we are making to enable new types of devices using our platform,” Hanke said in the tweet accompanying the image.
Despite the cryptic nature of the tweet, the company has already tipped in regards to its smartglass development efforts.
In 2018, Niantic made a strategic investment in waveguide display maker DigiLens, with Samsung eventually entering the Series C funding round that ended at $ 50 million.
While DigiLens makes optical components intended for manufacturers to integrate into its own products, the company has also developed the DigiLens Crystal smartglasses reference design that it licenses to manufacturers looking to jump-start product development.
The financial relationship doesn’t necessarily mean Niantic plans to stock its brand on smartglasses based on the DigiLens Crystal design, but it does make DigiLens a clear contender.
Hanke’s tweet also refers to the Niantic Real World Platform, which enables next-generation AR experiences not only for its own games, but also for third-party apps. So if Niantic doesn’t plan to ship its own smartglasses, its financial and technical efforts are facilitating the future of AR wearables.
The evolution from smartphones to smart glasses represents a huge opportunity for Niantic. Given the philosophy of getting people out to play games, an ecosystem where players can interact with games in their field of view instead of looking down at a touchscreen is simply a better experience. Whatever form the role of the Niantic takes, it’s exciting to see it take on an active role.