New ‘reality bending’ AR feature will make Pokemon Go seem more realistic

Niantic will be adding a new augmented reality feature to Pokemon Go that will make the virtual creatures look even more realistic. The feature is expected to be released next month.

The Pokemon will be able to hide entirely behind environmental fixtures like trees or furniture, thanks to what the company calls ‘reality blending’. The app does it by mixing hardware and software features on smartphones to understand real-world objects and to map an environment around it.

“Pokemon will be able to hide behind a real object or be occluded by a tree or table blocking its path, just like a Pokemon would appear in the physical world. As Pokemon Go has grown throughout the years, trainers have been able to photograph, walk, and play with their Pokemon buddy. This new feature brings them even closer to reality,” says Niantic’s Product Manager Kjell Bronder.

The demo video (seen above) was posted two years ago, featuring life-sized Pikachu and Eevee running around a crowded public space filled with pedestrians, potted plants, and benches. If Pokemon hid behind an object, you won’t be able to see them.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S10, as well as the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 will be the first phones to get the new feature. As for other devices, they are expected to receive the update in the future.

Along with ‘reality bending’, Pokemon Go players will also have the ability to contribute to its 3D mapping project. Players will be able to perform “PokéStop Scanning” to contribute to building 3D maps of PokéStops and Gyms by “walking around their favourite public places and recording a stream of images with their phone”. However, the feature will be restricted to trainers who are at the max level of 40 before it is available to lower-level players. 

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“This will allow us in the future to tie virtual objects to real world locations and provide Pokemon with spatial and contextual awareness of their surroundings. For instance, this awareness will help Snorlax find that perfect patch of grass to nap on or give Clefairy a tree to hide behind,” says Bronder.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has been making it harder for players to take advantage of the new upcoming features, as well as the original appeal of being able to walk out with a group of friends to catch Pokemon and raid Gyms. Still, Niantic has been continuously updating their games during the pandemic to make easier for people to play indoors, including the addition of remote raids.


Dzamira Dzafri