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What Challenges Does Niantic Face With Lightship AR?

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Niantic is an innovator in the world of augmented reality and game development. Its game Ingress was released in 2012, and subsequent releases Pokémon Go

and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite have both been highly successful. The company is now working on a new augmented reality project, Lightship AR, that promises to bring stories from around the world to life. However, this ambitious initiative faces significant challenges that must be overcome for it to succeed.

In this article, we will explore what those challenges are and how Niantic can respond to them effectively:

Overview of Niantic

Niantic is a company that has revolutionised the way people interact with augmented reality and connected gaming. Founded in 2010, they have a history of developing some of the world’s most popular augmented-reality and mobile gaming experiences, such as Pokemon Go, Ingress Prime, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

Now, they’re taking their expertise to the next level with the release of their Lightship AR platform. First, let’s look at what challenges Niantic will face as it moves beyond games and social networks.

Niantic’s history and current products

Niantic, Inc. is a leading software development company focused on augmented reality and computer vision products. Founded in 2015 by Google’s former head of mapping John Hanke, the San Francisco-based organisation has become an industry leader in developing innovative outdoor augmented reality (AR) experiences. Niantic’s current portfolio of products includes Ingress, Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (notably its fastest-growing product).

Ingress is Niantic’s flagship title. Ingress is an AR massively multiplayer online role-playing game with a background story involving the mysterious energy known as Exotic Matter (XM). Players must choose between two factions vying for control over these resources, to create XM portals at key real-world locations to secure them for their faction.

Pokemon Go was Niantic’s second major title, released in 2016. It quickly became one of the most successful mobile games ever launched, introducing millions worldwide to AR gaming and starting a wave of AR interests that would propel Niantic even further into success. By 2020 Pokemon GO had been downloaded over 1 billion times worldwide and remains one of the most popular AR titles.

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Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was released in 2019 as Niantic’s third major title and bears many similarities to their previous successes when it comes to gameplay mechanics—it is essentially a rebranding of their existing engine for use within the Harry Potter universe—but also features some new features such as playing specific mini-games at specialised locations called “Fortresses.” It has seen impressive success with over 50 million downloads worldwide and continues to grow alongside its predecessors.

Niantic moves beyond games with Lightship AR platform and a social network

Niantic is well-known for their popular AR gaming platforms such as Pokémon Go and Ingress, but the company has recently moved beyond games and social networks with the launch of their Lightship AR platform.

This new platform is designed to provide developers with powerful tools to build immersive, interactive augmented reality experiences. Using mapping technology, machine learning and computer vision, the Lightship platform allows developers to quickly create digital objects that react in real-time according to physical movements. Developers can also utilise Niantic’s cloud services for data management and online services such as analytics and leaderboards.

However, despite this ambition there are still some technical challenges that Niantic must overcome before they can fully realise the potential of their new platform. For example:

  • Tracking issues such as lighting conditions or occlusion (when other objects or obstacles block objects) can prevent tracking algorithms from accurately locating an AR object’s position in space.
  • Latency issues due to relying on high bandwidth connections.
  • Battery efficiency since prolonged use of augmented reality apps can quickly sap precious battery life from devices.
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For Niantic to truly revolutionise AR experiences with Lightship AR, it’s clear they have a lot more work ahead. However, by developing solutions that address technical challenges such as these, Niantic will regain edge over their competitors and offer developers truly revolutionary AR tools for content creation and publishing.


Niantic is a company that is taking a strong move into the augmented reality (AR) world through its Lightship AR platform. This is a big step for the company, as it will move it beyond its traditionally successful game and social network applications.

As with any new venture, there are challenges that Niantic will face in making the platform successful. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges that Niantic will face in its quest to become a major player in the AR space:

Technical challenges

One of the main challenges facing Niantic with Lightship AR is technical. First, since the platform combines real and digital elements, two distinct sides require different programming languages (JavaScript/MapVisualize for digital elements, Objective-C/OpenGL for real world mapping/location features). This can be an incredibly complex integration and very difficult to manage.

Second, they must find ways to accurately locate virtual objects in any environment where Lightship AR is used. This requires a significant amount of engineering effort – from accurately recognizing players’ locations in their environment to determining how those locations correspond to a map of the world – to ensure that its Augmented Reality experience is true-to-life.

On top of all this, Niantic also has to handle user authentication issues such as sign up/logging in, protecting user data privacy and more. All these technical considerations must be properly accounted for if Niantic wishes for its Lightship AR app to be successful and popular among users.

Regulatory challenges

Technology companies have faced major regulatory challenges in the past few years when entering new markets. Niantic as one of these companies is no exception.

Government regulations on consumer technology products vary widely and can often be very complex, making it difficult to apply a universal strategy to every market. As a result, Niantic must research and analyse the various regulations governing consumer technology products in different countries before launching Lightship AR in global markets.

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Regulatory compliance will be an especially difficult challenge for Niantic when attempting to bring Lightship AR to markets where laws concerning child safety, data protection, and consumer privacy are particularly strict – such as the European Union and the United States. In addition, many country-specific telecom regulations can affect product features and sales channels. Finally, as international laws evolve quickly in response to technological advancement, Niantic must ensure that its products comply with the latest versions of applicable laws, risk fines, or be delisted from certain markets.

Privacy and security challenges

Niantic, the company behind Lightship AR, must navigate a complex landscape of privacy and security concerns. With any product that uses strong technical capabilities to support data collection, there are always potential risks to users’ privacy. As a result, Niantic must ensure that the data collected and stored is kept secure, and that permission-based authorization protocols are in place to grant access to user data. This will help protect users’ identities and prevent malicious activities from occurring in their digital world.

Additionally, Niantic must:

  • Design and implement robust encryption algorithms in their products to protect user information from being intercepted or stolen by third parties.
  • Implement stringent safeguards to ensure that existing data is not illegally accessed or used without consent.
  • Forwardly publish any changes made within their Lightship AR system so that users can adjust permissions accordingly or opt out entirely if they no longer wish to participate.

Overall, transparent practices regarding user privacy and security will go a long way toward ensuring the success of Lightship AR on the public market.

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