Neon, HoloLens 2, Litho, … The future of AR gaming

New devices and new projects that will define the next milestone have been recently announced and showed off. Let’s give a look at some of them and discuss the future of AR gaming!

Codename Neon: Niantic’s multiplayer AR tech demo

Neon is the ongoing tech demo of Niantic, showing what the future of AR gaming could be on one hand, and on the other hand, regrouping major actors of the mobile industry (Samsung and Deutsche Telekom particularly). In this game, players collect lights and throw them at other players. It’s a multiplayer game, that you play in real-time, on your phone.

The tour de force here resides in the multiplayer AR technology, relying on an ultra-low latency communication between devices, using MobileEdgeX’s edge network. But what is it? Multi-access Edge Computing or formerly Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), is an architecture (that can be used in any network) integrating cloud computing capabilities and IT services close to the user. It allows network congestion reduction and better performance for applications. Developers can access the Radio Access Network (RAN) of a cellular operator to benefit MEC.

Maybe it seems complex and sure it is! But the thing to keep in mind here is that this new technology, allowing super fast communication and better performances on mobile, will be, with the upcoming 5G network, the new norm in a few years, opening a new world of possibilities and connected gaming.

In the coming months, maybe we will say good-bye to the good old AR games like Pokémon GO, where you use AR just for you (take a picture of a 3D model with real-world background), and where multiplayer features are very limited (particularly because of the latency and speed). With ARCore and ARKit, and thanks to MEC and 5G, we will experience new multiplayer gameplay that will redefine this young gaming area.

However, you will still hold your phone in front of you to see what has been added onto the real world… But for how long?

HoloLens 2: Microsoft’s mixed reality headset

Recently, Microsoft presented more of its upcoming HoloLens 2 headset, and gosh, it’s promising! The video speaks for herself:

Even it seems a bit big and heavy, this headset sure has some power under the hood, as it looks like the movement recognition is fluid. Moreover, With just a camera, you can broadcast the virtual scene as it is part of it. Remember that it’s also a young technology, a step in the direction of a much more mature tech that we will use in a couple of years. Indeed, imagine the power of this headset, multiply by 10, and fit this into a really small and lightweight headset like the Google Glass! That will be a wonderful tool for companies (employee assistance while assembling a product, presenting concepts to your boss or a client, …) and a new way of entertainment.

But we will highlight this in our Parting words section.

Litho: use your fingers without touching your screen

We talk about Litho, not so long ago, so if you want to know more about it, check our previous article. But to summarize, Litho is a small device, connected to your phone through Bluetooth, allowing you to interact with an AR game using the movement of your hand and fingers. No need to touch the screen anymore, use your hand as you would if you want to take your coffee cup!

And now, maybe you can see where we are going…

Parting words

Take those three techs separately, it’s just new techs. Cool techs, but just techs. Assemble them, and you obtain what could be the future of a huge chunk of the entertainment industry. Imagine a second: no phone in your hand, just a small headset on your head, a small device on your finger, and your voice. And here you are, a fully equipped Pokémon trainer, or space explorer, or twentieth-century soldier, or whatever you want! Almost seamlessly, you are integrated into a virtual world, with none of the limits of a VR headset, and what you see can be live broadcasted to the world through Twitch. You can battle another Pokémon trainer and be the champion of this E-sport. The world can see you in a wonderful arena, you can see a wonderful arena. The world can see living monsters battling, you can see them and control them, with your voice and movements. All of this, from a grey, empty stage, hidden behind virtual 3D models.

Look at E-sports indeed, how they become more and more popular. They generate a lot of money, and world championships of many games exist all around the world. There is certainly a public for live virtual battles, tournaments, or whatever you can imagine. Maybe theme park will use those techs to offer new experiences (VR is already in all theme parks). Or even cinema, with interactive movies, where you are in the middle of the scene, and you help Sherlock Holmes solving mysteries! But we will take our time to enjoy all those techs, even separately, as they grow and offer new ways to take pleasure playing games.

The entertainment industry (music, cinema, and video games now) are well-known to drive new techs that are then used somewhere else. And the speed at which new techs arrive today makes our head spin!

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!

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