Niantic to Unveil Major Updates to Pokemon Go, New Ingress

  • Hanke urges telecom industry to improve beacon technology
  • Startup also increasing its focus on wearable devices

Niantic Inc., a San Francisco startup, will unveil three new updates to Pokemon Go this year, plus a new version of its original game Ingress, seeking to build on the success of its augmented reality offerings.

The developer is also busy working on new augmented reality games, Niantic Chief Executive Officer John Hanke said at a session at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona on Tuesday, moderated by Bloomberg Television’s Caroline Hyde.

“The products we are building we think are the games that drive demand for AR,” Hanke said. He didn’t specify when the new versions of the games would be released, but added, "We’re only just getting started on Pokemon Go."

Hanke said Niantic was also increasingly focusing on wearable devices. Pokemon Go launched on Apple Inc.’s Watch in November, and the company is working with Canadian wearable technology startup Mighty Cast, which released a wristband that can be used for Ingress, a location-based mobile game with a science-fiction theme, in January.

Hanke flagged several areas where he thinks the mobile industry can improve, from location technology to beacons. “We are working with operators to win new customers and decrease churn,” he said.

Since its introduction in July, the Pokemon Go app has been downloaded 650 million times, with 44,600 terabytes of data transferred. Users have also walked a combined 8.7 billion kilometers through December catching Pokemon -– about the same distance to Pluto at its furthest point in orbit, he added.

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