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Image credit: Mark Kauzlarich / Reuters

Niantic buys Escher to power shared world AR experiences

One day, you may have to interact with real people in 'Pokémon Go'.
Mark Kauzlarich / Reuters

While Pokémon Go was a big step forward for AR in gaming, it appears that Niantic, the studio behind the game, has grander ambitions. This week, the company announced the acquisition of Escher Reality, which focuses on "persistent, cross platform, multi-user experiences," according to the release.

Escher has been working on AR for a long time, before Pokémon Go was a bona fide hit. "Everyone thought we were crazy at that time," Escher's CEO Ross Finman told TechCrunch. But Escher has been committed to creating a toolkit for AR developers working on mobile. While Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore offer toolkits as well, Escher specifically focuses on multiplatform and multiuser experiences, which neither of those products do.

This has big implications for Niantic's plans for Pokémon Go and its future AR games (including one that will reportedly include audio cues). The kind of tech that Escher worked on could be use to create the MMO version of an AR game: a shared world where people can interact with other players within the game.

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