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Strolling is the new scrolling: Niantic's AR web bet

But what's the new trolling?

Welcome to Lowpass, a newsletter about the future of entertainment and the next big hardware platforms, including smart TVs, ambient computing and AR / VR. This week: Why Niantic is betting on the web for AR wearables, and a scoop on Humane’s AI Pin device, as well as the company’s business model.

Strolling is the new scrolling: Why Niantic is betting on the AR web

In the not-too-distant future, many of us will be wearing AR glasses, capable of unlocking location-based information layers, entertainment, games and more wherever we look. Just this week, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Meta is aiming to release its first set of AR wearables as early as 2025.

While much of the recent AR glasses coverage has focused on hardware challenges, the impending release of these devices will also bring up a host of other issues. Among them: Who decides what kind of content consumers will have access to when they use AR in the wild? How will that information be organized and presented, and what will the power dynamics between hardware platforms and publishers look like?

It’s easy to imagine an AR future that looks much like today’s mobile world, complete with app stores, platform taxes and a power imbalance that greatly benefits the companies making these devices. Mobile AR pioneer Ninatic hopes that it won’t come to that, which is one reason the company is betting on the web as a foundation for our AR future.

Niantic recently released version 3.0 of its Lightship AR developer kit. While sharing some of the Lightship updates with me, Niantic senior AR and geodata product management director Kjell Bronder also shared his thoughts on the future of the medium, and why Niantic made a strategic bet on the AR web.

“In my mind, the promise of AR is that it will break this app silo,” Bronder told me. “It's not going to be an app-centric world.”

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