Today Google’s Niantic Labs has launched a new worldwide augmented reality game. Up until now Niantic’s only publicly available application was Field Trip, a combination of Google Now and local points of interest designed to help you explore your immediate area. But with much fanfare Niantic has announced the closed beta of its newest game. Ingress, as the movie trailer/ app teaser that was released today indicates, is an augmented reality game that somehow uses your smartphone and possibly a desktop experience to cross that fuzzy line between reality and entertainment that augmented reality enthusiasts love so dearly. Google has obviously invested a lot of time and money into this new game, so expectations are certainly high.
We don’t know a lot about the game at this point. But we can tell from the video above that important landmarks in your area will likely play a part in the experience as you collect energy and attempt to uncover the mystery that surrounds it. There also appears to be two warring factions that will be competing globally: the Resistance and the Enlightened. The Resistance being the group that wants to fight against this mysterious mind-controlling energy and the Enlightened who seek to embrace it. It also looks like you will be able to gather groups of your friends and work together in order to complete challenges. There may be quests to be embarked on or routes to follow, but all we know for sure right now is that this is an intriguing , ambitious concept.
A few questions about a scope of this project seem inevitable. Will this be something you can play from home, or will it require you to wander your neighborhood? Does the move towards augmented reality mean that we might actually see a widely available version of Google Glass in the near future?
We do know that the game is (for now) focused on smartphones, not tablets, so that leads us to believe that physically exploring an area may be an important part of the game. And no matter how all this works out, most seem sure that bike messengers, delivery people, and others who have occupations that require them to be constantly on the move will have a distinct advantage.
At the moment the game is invite-only but you can click here to enter your email to request an invite to the closed beta. If you already have an invite you can download the app (Android only for the moment) from the Play Store. Are you one of the lucky few with an invitation? If so feel free to comment below and let us know what you think so far.