Seeing another world through your phone is about to become a lot more popular as Niantic launches its small business-friendly AR (augmented reality) beta test next month. This service will let small businesses create a digital-only signpost to let people playing AR games know that the spot offers in-game rewards and benefits.
It's also what Niantic's CEO John Hanke described as the "anti-Amazon" model, referencing how it's entirely possible to live without leaving your house these days. Niantic also launched the Niantic Creator Program which will allow content creators access to the technology that made Pokémon Go work, and even additional funding to developers who need a little help. In other words, with the support of Niantic, a whole host of new AR-based games and services may just start popping up.
It's not just a pipe dream to think about looking through your phone and seeing a fantasy world everywhere you turn, either. "Planet-scale AR" is in development, Hanke says, after 27 million sites in the world were submitted by Pokémon Go players via their "Wayfinder" system. 9.4 million locations of those 27 million submitted are already up and running.
The only thing stopping players from looking through their phone and seeing a full-size Charizard roaring at them has been a lack of development in AR technology-- and a need for 5G networks. 5G Connections are reported to hit 1 billion in 2023, according to CSS insight, but more than half will be in China. But money in AR is there-- worldwide spending on the medium is jumping 70% this year... up to $20.4 billion.
For now, small businesses can expect a slight boost in customers next month for players looking to catch a Pidgey or two with their morning coffee, people utterly uninterested in the medium may find themselves having 5G internet as a multi-billion dollar company pushes it for their services and Niantic players can start feeling more immersed when they boot up their AR games. A good deal all around.