News: Niantic Acquires Escher Reality to Add Multiplayer Capabilities to Its Apps

Niantic Acquires Escher Reality to Add Multiplayer Capabilities to Its Apps

Soon, Pokémon GO allies attacking a raid boss at a gym will be able to do so together in augmented reality.

The game's developer, Niantic Labs, announced on Thursday via a blog post that it has acqui-hired Escher Reality, an augmented reality and computer vision developer that specializes in multi-player experiences, for an undisclosed sum.

"The addition of the Escher AR technology is incredibly exciting to us at Niantic as it significantly accelerates our work on persistent, shared AR as part of the Niantic real-world application platform," wrote John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic.

Image by Escher Reality/YouTube

Led by co-founders Ross Finman and Diana Hu, Escher Reality's capabilities are evident in Volley, a demo game (shown above) built on the company's multiplayer SDK, which is in beta.

"Escher Reality has been fortunate to work with some of the top AR studios as part of our beta, and we are grateful for their feedback. We thank the thousands of developers who signed up for our waiting list—such overwhelming response is the dream of any start-up," wrote Finman and Hu in a letter announcing the acquisition on their website.

Although Apple has reportedly delayed multiplayer support for ARKit until 2019, Niantic apparently plans to dive into this aspect of AR as soon as possible. Other developers won't have to wait, either.

"It's our intention to make our cross-platform AR technology available more widely to developers later this year," wrote Hanke. "Stay tuned for information on developer availability."

Along with last year's acquisition of Evertoon to improve social elements of its games, Niantic is clearly looking to make its games as interactive between players as they are with their environments.

"At Niantic, we are committed to using technology to enhance our users' interactions with the physical world, and we are excited to embrace the Escher team as we continue to evolve and grow our platform to support planet-scale AR," wrote Hanke.

Previously, Hanke has stated that the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite mobile game would likely arrive in the second half of 2018. If the Escher AR SDK is to be offered to developers "later this year," then there's a good chance that aspiring wizards will be able to cast spells in AR alongside their Hogwarts classmates.

Cover image via Niantic Labs

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