Niantic’s Keynote at MWC 2019


Staff member
Feb 13, 2019
Ravenclaw, Thunderbird
Niantic’s CEO John Hanke was at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to talk about the company, the technology and where they are headed. This is what he had to say.


Niantic’s Goal as a Company

During the keynote, John Hanke talked a little bit about what he wanted to create with the company.

He felt there was a story in every neighbourhood, an adventure just waiting to be discovered, an experience to share with the family. He was also interested in giving some of us couch potatoes an incentive to go out for a walk and get something special out of it. But mostly, it was the possibility of real-life, face to face interactions which drove Niantic.

This is why, he said, he loves real-life Pokémon Go conventions so much. People meeting new people, making friends, sharing their similar interests.
Which is exactly what we’re hoping for with Wizards Unite!

Augmented Reality and multiplayer platforms

Niantic owns the two most popular Augmented Reality games in the market, Pokémon Go and Ingress. Wizards Unite will definitely make it three for three.
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But as technology progresses, we will get more and more out of our games. Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, Niantic created a demo for multiplayer interaction called Codename Neon.

We might have mentioned this a few times, but we really, really hope this technology will allow Wizards Unite to have some amazing real-life(-ish, please don’t go about cursing people!) duels!

As John Hanke mentioned, there are still a few issues to work on before this becomes available. Namely, network latency. With this kind of technology there can be no delay between what we see in person and what we see on our phones. The images, the interaction and the consequences have to be immediate. Unfortunately, our technology is not quite there yet.

This is the reason why Niantic has partnered up with some network companies that have been working towards the same goal: creating a seamless, low-latency network for us to use. This isn’t just for mobile games, of course. But right now our minds are too focused on Wizards Unite to even think about other uses.

The two partnerships we know of so far are with Deutsche Telekom’s 5G Network and MobiledgeX Edge Servers, but Hanke mentioned more partnerships in the near future. Together they are working hard on creating advanced Augmented Reality experiences for us all.

And although Wizards Unite was only mentioned in passing, and there is still no information on when it will be available for download, we all know that’s where all these developments are headed.

The Samsung of it all

The keynote was focused on Augmented Reality possibilities and low latency network issues. However, Hanke mentioned Samsung quite a few times. Just in case you haven’t heard, Samsung recently made a $40M deal with Niantic.

Among other mentions, Hanke ended the presentation telling everyone in attendance they could try out Codename Neon for themselves on their stand, using the new Samsung handheld device.

Now is this just advertising or are we headed towards exclusivity? Maybe not for the whole game, but for some technological features? It’s kind of a scary thought.
A little bit of speculation, because that’s just who we are…

During the presentation, Hanke mentioned wearables and AR glasses a few times. We’ve talked about the possibility of having compatible wands to cast spells with while playing, but how awesome would it be to have wearable AR glasses? As in, extremely Harry Potter glasses?


With a wand and glasses Potterheads will be unstoppable!! Now I just need to catch that Niffler, empty its pouch and pawn all the goodies so I can pay for it! Wish me luck!
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