Niantic’s Acquisitions and Their Developments

Niantic's Real World Platform: Understanding Reality

Following a recent blog post by Niantic detailing some of its future Augmented Reality projects, let’s look at their acquisitions and how they may affect Harry Potter: Wizards Unite in the future.

If you’re new to Augmented Reality, read our previous articles on this topic first.


In early February 2018, Niantic acquired Escher Reality, a tiny company that prides itself on “persistent, multi-user, cross-platform AR experiences.”  An exciting startup that raised three million dollars, Escher is bringing our world closer to multiplayer AR. In a statement following the acquisition, Escher declared, “we share Niantic’s goal of enriching people’s experiences by blending the physical and the digital worlds.” Examples of Escher’s work.

The meanings of these statements have recently come to light in Niantic’s blog post after Niantic reinforced the idea of Escher’s work on their “Planet Scale AR” project along with revealing a couple of multiplayer prototypes.  

These prototypes are detailed further in Markus’s article, but both of them seem to emulate the principles of Escher Reality.  Many players walk or run around, playing games that are either competitive or cooperative.  It’s also notable that players use both Apple and Android devices, showcasing the promised cross-platform experience.

It seems that Escher will truly play a pivotal role in the development of Wizards Unite, but Niantic also announced a new acquisition in its blog post: Matrix Mill.  Matrix Mill is a London-based startup that promises to “redefine how machines see and understand the world.”

Though it may seem like Matrix Mill will be working under the radar to revolutionize AR, its work is already evident in one of Niantic’s prototypes.  Dubbed “Codename: Niantic Occlusion,” this operation seeks to give augmented elements, such as magical creatures, a form of “sight” in the real world, allowing them to avoid physical objects and sense movement.

Additionally, under a paragraph titled “understanding reality,” Niantic explained some of Matrix Mill’s technology.  A GIF demonstrates how a computer understands the distances between various objects before placing augmented things in physical places.

An animated GIF demonstrating how a computer judges real objects so objects of Augmented Reality can better interact in the real world.

This concept of occlusion is part of Niantic’s greater idea of the Niantic Real World Platform, or what Niantic is trying to build as a whole, with all its acquisitions.  While the things Escher is doing with AR are astounding, the additional acquisition of Matrix Mill only adds to Niantic’s goals.

Niantic is giving computers a way to understand what they see. When this technology is perfected, the possibilities will be endless! 

How do you think these acquisitions will apply to Wizards Unite? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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