A new generation of augmented reality experiences

Three years after Pokémon Go introduced hundreds of millions of people to augmented reality, its creator Niantic launched a new mobile game yesterday that brings a touch of Harry Potter magic into the world of muggles. Like Pokémon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite — which was released in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand yesterday — blends the physicaland the digital, using a smartphone camera to layer the wizarding world over the real one… While Pokémon Go was a breakthrough, the release of Wizards Unite and, later this year, of Microsoft’s Minecraft Earth app, which will let players drop pixelated creations from the popular game into real locations, heralds a new generation of AR experiences that can fulfil the technology’s vast potential… Personal devices are increasingly able to capture and visualise the world down to centimetre-level detail and recognise the objects they “see”, using AI techniques. Apple, Google, Facebook and Snap, as well as several start-ups, are racing with Niantic to seize this new opportunity… While Niantic is the leader in standalone AR games, the technology has become embedded in a feature of a variety of ecommerce apps — from previewing new sofas with Ikea, Argos or Way-fair, to sizing up shoes from Nike and Adidas. This week YouTube launched new video ads that let viewers try on virtual make-up from MAC Cosmetics.
Tim Bradshaw