Pokemon Go developer Niantic’s founder and CEO, John Hanke, would like to tune out of the metaverse conversation for the time being, and focus on the future of worlds that can be overlaid on the real world, he said in a blog. In it, he admits that the metaverse is a “cool concept” from a technology point of view. However, he also says that the novels and games that were based on this concept were in fact “warning about a dystopian future of technology gone wrong”. Instead of delving deeper into the metaverse, Hanke would rather use technology to “lean into the ‘reality of augmented reality.”
Explaining the objective of his company, Hanke said that they were focused on encouraging people “to stand up, walk outside, and connect with people and the world around us.” He added that technology should be used to elevate the core human experiences and not replace them.
In the blog published Niantic’s website, Hanke says that over the past several years the benefits of technology have taken a “huge toll” on people, “increasingly cutting us off from the experiences that we enjoy the most.”
Admitting that technology is not going away anywhere, as it shouldn’t, he explained that the first step towards enabling technology to help us was by creating “technology that connects the real world (the atoms) with the digital one (the bits).” Citing the Lightship platform, he said that the aim is to create a real-world experience that’s enhanced by data, information, and interactive tech.
He explained that building the real world metaverse is dependent on the intersection of two major technical undertakings. The first was synchronizing the state of several million users along with the virtual objects they interact with. For this, he cited the example of the Niantic Lightship platform, “which underpins Pokémon Go and all of our products and supports hundreds of millions of users around the world.”
The second is “tying users and objects precisely to the physical world,” Hanke said. “It requires a new kind of map,” he said, adding that Niantic was building that map, in collaboration with users.
He also added that Niantic is working on outdoor-capable AR glasses. “In this future version, Pokémon appear to you as if they are really there,” explaining the scope of the project.
“User privacy, responsible use, inclusive development processes and recognizing and mitigating the potential impacts of AR technology on societies all need to be considered now, not after the fact,” Mr Hanke stressed, describing the company’s vision as an opportunity to “harness technology to serve our needs, rather than the other way around.”