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Niantic has a new experience for Quest headsets that features an ‘AI-enabled’ owl

Niantic, known for augmented reality mobile games such as pokemon go And peridotrevealed a new Mixed Reality Experience Tuesday. Titled “Volle”, it can be played on Quest headsets and features an “AI-enabled” talking owl discussing the Redwood Forest.

I packed a lot into that sentence, so let’s break it down. While you can watch this experience on your phone, it’s different from Niantic’s AR mobile games because you can also try it using the passthrough video feature on VR headsets like Meta’s Quest 2 and Quest Pro. To use it, you go to one URL — — which means you don’t need an app to try it out. In the experience itself, a large portal into a virtual redwood forest will appear in front of you, and then the Vole will fly in and start talking about what you can see.

Wol’s AI is powered by Inworld, which Inworld itself describes as a “developer platform for AI characters”, and although you can talk to Wol and its AI underpinnings will help create answers, it seems like Wol has There will be some strict interactive limits. “The Wall lives in the context of the Redwood Forest,” said Tom Emerick, director of product management for the 8th Wall platform at Niantic, in an interview. ledge, “While you can ask Woll anything, he’ll always put you in the context of the story.”

I chatted with Woll for about 15 minutes on my Quest 2, and it was a more smooth experience than I expected. Our conversation began when the vole flew up to a virtual tree next to my desk and asked my name and where I was from. I told it the correct answer—”Jay, from Portland”—and we were off, talking about things like Voll’s favorite aspects of forest life, her youth, and her best friend (a bat, apparently). Were staying The weirdest thing was that Woll kept calling me “Jay from Portland” instead of Jay, but that wasn’t too bad in the scheme of things; Woll answered my questions naturally, usually with a slight delay, and was very kind. I think a young child would have a lot of fun with this.

Woll experience is not intended to be the next pokemon go-level event; Emrich says the maximum time within it is five minutes, and Niantic has no plans to update it. Instead, Wol was created more as a way to showcase Niantic’s 8th Wall technology that lets developers create web-based AR apps. (Niantic acquires 8th Wall in 2022.)

It could also be a preview of the types of apps you’ll see built with Niantic’s technology down the line, which could be especially interesting with headsets like Meta’s Quest 3 and Apple’s rumored mixed reality headset expected in the future. . But all that being said, the Voll is just a tech demo; We’ll have to wait and see if other developers create full-fledged mixed reality experiences that take off in a meaningful way.

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