Niantic Inc., the developer of the popular augmented reality game “Pokemon Go” and the Lightship AR platform, today announced that it has acquired the web-based AR development platform 8th Wall Inc.
Augmented reality uses the camera on a mobile device to create a “window” into the world where holographic objects can be projected over what the user can see. AR experiences can be used to create fun games, immersive mapping apps that generate visible paths, advertisements that float in front of billboards and even product packaging that comes to life.
Using 8th Wall’s WebAR technology, developers and businesses can quickly set up web-based AR experiences for mobile devices that do not require a special app. That removes many of the barriers to enabling these kinds of experiences.
“8th Wall has been on a mission to bring augmented reality to everyone. We have been doing this by equipping developers, brands and agencies with a complete set of tools to create web-based augmented reality experiences for mobile devices – no app required, ”Erik Murphy-Chutorian, chief executive and founder of 8th Wall. “In joining Niantic, we will be furthering this mission by offering developers more tools to build engaging and interactive AR experiences which harness the power and freedom of the web.”
Since 2018, 8th Wall and its WebAR platform have seen tremendous growth and have been used by developers to create over 50,000 experiences. The technology developed by the company has been used by top tier brands including Pepsi, Microsoft, Nike, Porsche, Netflix, Heineken, Lego, General Mills, Dior, Universal Pictures, Westfield and Verizon.
Over the past several years, the company has incorporated numerous technologies into its platform, including cloud-based authoring and hosting for developers, AR experiences for curved surfaces and “face filters” that allow the display of jewelry and eyeglasses on faces.
Niantic intends to fuse 8th Wall’s WebAR technology with its Lightship platform, a powerful developer toolset that includes the Augmented Reality Developer Kit. The ARDK enables developers to build imaginative and immersive AR applications and includes all the tools used to power Niantic’s games “Ingress” and “Pokemon Go.”
“With our Lightship platform, launched globally in November last year, we’re offering all developers the world’s largest immersive canvas to bring their creations to life on a massive scale,” Brian McClendon, Niantic’s senior vice president of engineering, mapping and AR. “8th Wall, which is our largest acquisition to date, greatly complements our vision for Lightship, and we plan to expand our Lightship developer platform tools with their proven WebAR technology.”
The 8th Wall platform itself will remain a standalone offering after the acquisition, while the team will be folded into Niantic’s AR engineering organization structure. Within Niantic, the 8th Wall team will continue to expand on the feature set of its products as part of Niantic Lightship, including expanding Lightship’s tools and technology to the mobile web.