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News18 » Tech
2-min read

'Pokemon Go': How Google Earth, Maps, 'Ingress' Players Helped Create the Sensational AR Game

With real-time location tracking and maps at its core, the game draws its roots to search giant – Google and also Ninantic’s first multiplayer augmented reality game – Ingress – that was launched in 2011.

News18.com

Updated:July 11, 2016, 3:59 PM IST
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'Pokemon Go': How Google Earth, Maps, 'Ingress' Players Helped Create the Sensational AR Game
With real-time location tracking and maps at its core, the game draws its roots to search giant – Google and also Ninantic’s first multiplayer augmented reality game – Ingress – that was launched in 2011.
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From making players trespass others’ properties to leading them to dead bodies and also causing physical injuries, Pokemon Go – has become a global phenomenon. But not many would be aware that the augmented reality game has the world’s biggest technology company to give credit to.

Niantic’s Pokemon Go brings the anime series of collecting monsters in the real world. At the core of the game are locations and maps. Players have to explore their surroundings in order to find monsters and catch them.

The game was launched on Wednesday (July 6, 2016) and in less than a week after its launch, the game has topped the levels of user engagement and also added a whopping $7.5 billion to Nintendo market value.

John Hanke, CEO and founder of Niantic Labs, was one of the founders of Keyhole – the company Google acquired to kickstart its Google Earth division. Hanke also helped develop Google Maps before forming Niantic Labs.

In a report on Mashable, Hanke is quoted as saying, “A lot of us worked on Google Maps and Google Earth for many, many years, so we want the mapping to be good.”

With real-time location tracking and maps at its core, the game draws its roots to search giant – Google and also Ninantic’s first multiplayer augmented reality game – Ingress – that was launched in 2011.

 

Forming the base of Pokemon Go’s Pokestops and gyms is the data pool acquired through Ingress.

As Hanke explains, the pool of portal locations for the game is based on historical markers along with data from geo-tagged photos on Google including ‘things that were public artwork, historical sites, buildings with unique architectural history, or unique local businesses.’

To gather the location data for Pokestops and gyms, the team asked Ingress players to submit entries they thought were suitable of being portals. There were about 15 million submissions out of which Niantic approved 5 million locations worldwide. The most popular Ingress portals within a certain geographic location are now gyms in Pokemon Go, while the second most popular are Pokestops.

This gives some context to players ending up in strange locations because these are the places Ingress players have been to. To determine where a particular Pokemon appears, another set of mapping data. For example, for areas with stream or pond, water-type Pokemon like Magikarp and Squirtles will appear. The data further classifies areas based on climate, vegetation, soil or rock type.

Despite reports about players getting injured in their pursuit of monsters, Hanke says that safety is the top priority for the team and the goal is to have pedestrian-safe places as Pokestops and gyms.

The team is also trying to limit the spawning of monsters in places like roadways so that players do not need to go out of their way to locate them. All that the player needs to do is tap on it and interact without venturing into unknown places and getting hurt.

For Hanke and his team, the future of Pokemon Go is a move to a more immersive experience with augmented reality goggles and card trading. By allowing users to build their own Pokestops and gyms, the team intends to drive more interaction between players in the future.

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