Augmented reality startup InnoVision partnered with Google on the world's first Tamagotchi-like AR game powered by ARCore – Meow! AR Cat. Much like its name suggests, the title was designed as a largely traditional pet simulator, but one that leverages the power of Google's AR platform for Android devices. Meow! AR Cat will be hitting the Google Play Store tomorrow, becoming available on over a dozen Android handsets that support ARCore 1.0 which officially launched at Mobile World Congress in late February. InnoVision claims its creation is the first mobile AR game that provides players with the ability to raise a lifelike cat which they can freely interact with, being able to pet it or entertain it with AR toys such as laser pens. The cat will supposedly also understand some verbal instructions, though it's presently unclear whether it will be trainable in a sense that it will be able to learn tricks over time.
Meow! AR Cat has already been available on select iOS devices since last year, having originally been designed to utilize Apple's ARKit. InnoVision founder and Chief Executive Officer Tao Hu has a history of developing Google Glass apps and has also been involved in the launch of the first consumer-grade virtual reality headset from Facebook's Oculus. The AR pioneer ended up establishing his startup in mid-2016, with InnoVision itself also being dedicated to developing new AR and blockchain solutions. Meow! AR Cat is likely to compete directly with Tamagotchi Forever Land which Bandai Namco already confirmed will also feature an AR component once it debuts this spring, though the Japanese game developer-publisher has yet to share more details on the matter.
InnoVision's Android port may be just the beginning of the company's ARCore plans and while the startup says it collaborated with Google on its development, it's presently unclear to what degree was the Alphabet-owned Internet giant involved in the project. Google's AR platform is presently available on many contemporary Android flagships, including those from Samsung, LG, and OnePlus. The Pixel and Pixel 2-series devices also support the technology, though the newly released Galaxy S9 lineup has yet to be added to the list of compatible smartphones.