Reality blending is coming to Pokémon GO “over the next few weeks” for specific Android devices before being released to the general public. This new feature will make augmented reality much more realist in the game, allowing Pokémons to pass behind real-word objects or hide behind objects in the environment like trees or furniture.
This AR technique is called occlusion and uses a mix of hardware and software features on high-end smartphones to map an environment and understand the shape and depth of real-world objects.
Niantic says the feature will come first to Samsung Galaxy S9 and S10, the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 4. Niantic already released this AR feature to a select number of players with those same devices and more smartphones models should enter the list in the future.
Niantic product manager Kjell Bronder said in a blog post that “as Pokémon Go has grown throughout the years, trainers have been able to photograph, walk, and play with their pokémon buddy. This new feature brings them even closer to reality.”
Occlusion will allow for many interesting situations, considering each Pokémon’s particularity and type. “For instance, this awareness will help Snorlax find that perfect patch of grass to nap on or give Clefairy a tree to hide behind,” said Bronder said.
Trainers will be able to contribute to 3D map building if they are at level 40 with the opt-in feature Ingress. “Since Portal Scanning launched in Ingress, agents have scanned hundreds of thousands of points of interest for inclusion in building the 3D map for games and future apps,” Bronder said.
The app automatically applies blurring to potentially recognizable objects like faces or license plates in images trainers choose to send to Niantic, and as always the company doesn’t collect or store any personal data in connection with this information and it is not tied to specific player accounts.
Because of COVID-19 lockdowns, trainers will have to wait to test this in the outdoors and collaborate with Niantic, but the game has been adapting to social distancing and making the game more suited to play at home.
Since March, Niantic has continuously updated the app with Pokémón appearing more often near players so they can catch em’ all from home and recording indoor exercise as an in-game activity. It also implemented Remote Raid Pass and limited-time events.