Pokemon GO Maker Niantic Acquires AR Startup Escher Reality

Pokemon GO maker Niantic Labs acquired augmented reality startup Escher Reality, the company said Thursday. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed, though the move likely didn't warrant anything more than a low seven-digit figure, with Escher raising only $120,000 since its inception in 2016, with the entirety of that sum being attributed to its mid-2017 seed round, according to Crunchbase. The startup's whole team is now set to join the San Francisco, California-based company, with Niantic Chief Executive Officer John Hanke presenting the transaction as completed.

Founded by Diana Hu and Ross Finman, Escher has been focused on creating augmented reality experiences, including computer vision solutions. The company's proprietary technology is described as being platform-agnostic in nature and designed to support experiences involving multiple users. Niantic's interest in the firm is hence likely related to the company's efforts to strengthen the multiplayer component of its mobile games, though it's presently unclear whether the newly acquired technology will eventually be implemented into any of its older games or if it's only meant to benefit new ones. Mr. Hanke said the addition of Escher's team and technologies will facilitate the company's AR projects, revealing that its cross-platform solution will also be offered to independent developers later this year but without providing more details on the matter. As a whole, Escher is a natural fit for Niantic's vision of "planet-scale AR," Mr. Hanke concluded.

The purchase comes shortly after Ninatic completed the acquisition of digital storytelling startup Evertoon, having announced that move in early November. The massive success of Pokemon GO largely ensures the company can continue consistently making such low-profile acquisitions for the foreseeable future, though it remains to be seen whether it intends to do so. Niantic presently has only one announced project in the works, with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite being set to be released for Android and iOS devices in the second half of the year. The studio previously said it's also developing an audio-driven AR mobile game that may be the Harry Potter title it ended up announcing after that disclosure, though some industry watchers are expecting such an experimental experience to be delivered in the form of a separate project, likely based on an entirely new IP.

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Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]