Niantic Pokémon AR demo shows Pikachu hiding behind actual objects

'Occlusion' looks like the future of mobile augmented reality

The developer behind Pokémon Go has announced plan to allow third-party developers to utilize its new augmented reality development framework to create their own apps.

In an effort to show off the technology powering the developer’s ‘Real World Platform,’ Niantic demonstrated a new technique the developer is calling occlusion.

Through machine learning techniques developed following the company’s acquisition of London-based startup Matrix Mill, Niantic’s development framework is able to create a neural network that’s able to place virtual images behind real-world objects — all in real time.

In the demonstration Niantic showed off in a recent YouTube video, Pikachu and Eevee hides behind various flower pots, along with a park bench.

The Pocket Monster even ran behind moving people towards the end of the video.

Above is what AR typically looks like without occlusion.

Given this is just a proof of concept demonstration, it’s unclear if occlusion is set to make its way to Pokémon Go in the near future. It’s likely that the technology will be featured in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Niantic’s upcoming augmented reality game set in J.K. Rowlings universe.

It’s currently unclear how closely Niantic’s new occlusion technology is associated with Apple’s ARKit 2 or Google’s ARCore augmented reality development frameworks.

Regardless of what title Niantic’s new occlusion tech makes it into, it’s a significant step forward for mobile augmented reality technology and far ahead of what is currently featured in Pokemon Go, surpassing the game’s AR+ iPhone-exclusive mode impressively.