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Forget Apple Glass — Niantic just teased its own AR glasses

Niantic AR glasses
(Image credit: Niantic)

Pokémon Go maker Niantic has teased what appears to be its first AR glasses in a close-up shot shared on Twitter

The company has been openly discussing the idea of building its own augmented reality tech since 2017, but now CEO John Hanke has shared proof that the project is underway. And while it's hard to judge the whole design based on a single zoomed-in shot, we can already tell that Niantic's AR headset includes lenses and a small speaker on the side of the frames. 

Hanke didn't exactly dive into the details when tweeting out the teaser image. Instead, he simply stated: "Exciting to see the progress we’re making to enable new kinds of devices that leverage our platform..."

It remains unclear how far the company will go with the AR glasses, or whether the technology will resemble either Google Glass or Microsoft's HoloLens. What's curious is that Hanke used the word "devices" rather than "device," which leads us to believe that the Niantic CEO could have a couple more announcements up his sleeve. 

The tweet quickly got the attention of Min-Liang Tan, Razer's CEO, who suggested that the two firms could collaborate and mentioned that Razer has just started shipping out its Anzu smart glasses too. While Hanke hasn't openly responded to the proposition yet, it would certainly be exciting to see Niantic collaborate with one of the biggest gaming hardware companies. 

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Niantic's interest in AR and mixed-reality hardware is hardly a new thing. In 2019, it announced it was working with Qualcomm on an "integrated design spanning AR glasses reference hardware, software, and cloud-components." However, somewhat confusingly, Niantic COO Megan Quinn later clarified in an interview with Protocol that the company had "no plans" to produce its own hardware.

Later, in 2020, Niantic acquired a 3D mapping startup to work on advanced "planet-scale" AR. Since then, Hanke was invited to the Microsoft Ignite 2021 conference, where he demonstrated what Pokémon Go could potentially look like using Microsoft's HoloLens AR technology.

The news about the Niantic's potential AR glasses comes just a week after the company announced an exciting partnership with Nintendo to work on a new Pikmin AR game that is set to come to mobile devices sometime this year.