A Massive Step for the Real-World Metaverse

Light beams on an aerial view in AR

Late last week, Niantic launched Lightship VPS for Web – instantly advancing the state of immersive tech further than anything else has managed to since we started Arcade 5 years ago.

What is Lightship VPS for Web?

It is not so much a new product launch, but the combination of two already powerful platforms:

8th Wall – the most advanced WebAR platform in the world, that empowers agencies like us to create augmented reality experiences that can be accessed through the web browser (without the need for a native app).

and:

Lightship VPS – a visual positioning system for mobile devices to not just recognise the location of a user in the real world, but also understand the spatial and semantic nature of their surroundings, enabling us to create hyper-contextual augmented reality experiences.

So why is this so exciting?

Arcade’s mission of ‘connecting people to place through play’ is founded on a belief in the latent power of the devices in our pockets to connect people to the real world, and to make more of it through play and storytelling. And this is exactly what this release will allow us to do, producing more relevant and engaging experiences that feel seamlessly integrated into the world around us, accessible to anyone with a mobile device.

We have demonstrated the impact of this type of approach recently with our Keeper of Paintings experience at the National Gallery. By programming iOS and Android devices to recognise the real-world paintings, we were able to tell such a compelling story that over 40% of users are repeat visitors – that’s kids wanting to return to an art gallery to carry on playing!

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The real-world metaverse?

The Keeper of Paintings is an app-based experience, but Lightship VPS for Web will allow creators like us to combine this kind of world-understanding with the accessible nature of WebAR. This is the power of what Niantic calls ‘the real-world metaverse’. Niantic CEO John Hanke has made the point that ‘Metaverse’ is a term appropriated from dystopian portrayals of a future where society no longer wants to inhabit the real world and instead escapes into virtual ones. This is not the future that Niantic – or Arcade – is building towards.

Lightship VPS for Web is Niantic’s latest response to the hype and hyperbole surrounding the ‘metaverse’, that asks us all to believe in the world we have. Not to escape it, or leave it behind, but to join together in revealing its magic and beauty, exploring new ways to engage with it and each other.

We believe. Let’s go.