Niantic wants to solve the problem presented by the awkward poses often required to play AR games through the use of audio and it is already working on a game to address the issue. That's according to the company's CTO Phil Keslin who recently spoke at TechCrunch Disrupt about the future of AR development. More directly, Keslin, whose company is responsible for the breakout mobile AR titles Pokemon GO and Ingress, says that nobody really wants to wander around with their phone waving in all directions, looking "like a total doofus." His company's solution to that is to use audio in combination with a smart device's array of sensors to fundamentally change the way in which people experience AR gaming.
The idea stems from the fact that so many people use their mobile devices for audio that it is not unusual for somebody to almost always seem to have earbuds on. So using audio would allow people to feel immersed in an experience, but for that experience to remain more "hidden" and less strange as a result. Keslin went on to say that Niantic is already experimenting with the idea and has a new game in "active development" that incorporates audio as a way to support its AR aspects. Although Keslin didn't provide any concrete details about the new game, he did hint at how audio cues could be used by the player, saying that the audio could prompt a user to go to their left "without looking up." Presumably, the sensors on a user's device would then be used to determine whether or not they had completed the task successfully, possibly with changes to the experience based on how well they'd followed directions.
There is an almost endless number of scenarios for which the aforementioned kind of interaction could be used in terms of game genres, so the hint doesn't say much about what the company is actually working on. However, it is an interesting insight into how Niantic approaches its development. As Keslin says, "AR is not just vision" and "audio is significant" to people. While no other details about the upcoming game were given, Keslin also mentioned that audio features could seep into other Niantic games. However, there's no guarantee that will happen unless they significantly ennoble the gaming experience, which is also something the company experimented with when developing Ingress but ultimately scrapped the idea, Keslin revealed.