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NextNav has integrated its vertical tracking service into an upcoming mobile game called Atlas: Earth from developer Atlas Reality. With it, game developers will be able to identify players in three dimensions, such as which floor they are on in a skyscraper.
The Sunnyvale, based in California NextNav considers its Pinnacle vertical location service to be the next generation of the Global Positioning System (GPS), which gives us a two-dimensional location on every smartphone. Using built-in smartphone barometers and other technologies for 3D geolocation, NextNav figured out how to capture our locations in 3D.
It’s precise enough to give the developer a location as precise as the floor a person is on in a multi-story building, said Dan Hight, vice president of business development at NextNav, in an interview with GamesBeat. And this is how Atlas Reality will be able to know where its players are more precisely with its game Atlas: Earth.
“This will be the first time the vertical location has actually been used for gameplay,” Hight said. “We talked about offering access to a wider range of different developers. We’re really excited about this and how it will unlock new abilities. “
Atlas: Earth will use 3D data for a real estate game. If you think of Monopoly, it’s similar but only that the virtual buildings are superimposed on the real world. So players can buy the top floor of a luxury condo or something like that. In games like Atlas: Earth, players will be able to spend real money to purchase a virtual property, and NextNav will verify the location of that virtual property.
Atlas: Earth will deliver a gaming experience built around real user environments, especially in densely populated areas and multi-story buildings, marking the first time that the vertical dimension will fuel in-game functionality.
Atlas: Earth will launch on October 18 and is now available for “pre-registration”. It will allow users to purchase virtual plots of real estate which, when owned, function as digital properties attached to actual locations. In-game, Pinnacle will provide precise vertical location intelligence, allowing users to record visits to places such as the top floor of the Empire State Building or the Skygarden of the Federal Building in San Francisco. Players could even rent space in someone’s virtual building.
It introduces a model in which users can earn real income by selling virtual items that can only be purchased when a user is physically on site – which is verified by NextNav’s Pinnacle – in locations belonging to the universe of Game.
Atlas Reality previously released Atlas: Empires, a 2D location game that looked like others of its ilk like Niantic’s Pokémon Go. Atlas: Empires has gotten over 500,000 downloads, CEO Sami Khan said in an interview with GamesBeat. Atlas Reality was able to integrate the technology easily in part because NextNav released its Pinnacle SDK for the Unity engine last year.
Marketing the real world
Khan is a seasoned marketer who worked for fintech startup Acorns, which saves people money in their savings accounts with every purchase. He loved to gamify fintech and saw a similar opportunity with finance-focused games, such as the virtual real estate game genre, which has been around for as long as companies have been creating virtual versions of Monopoly. But in this case, Khan’s Atlas: Earth game ties into real-world locations, and that’s what Atlas Reality is looking for.
“We think of games in a different way, bringing technology to the game to create mechanics that the gaming industry has ignored,” Khan said in an interview with GamesBeat. “Four years ago [under the Cerberus Interactive name], we started building a real-world metaverse that we knew would serve as the bed for many of our proprietary games. We were inspired by “Sim City” and other simulation games.
Unlike Niantic, Atlas Reality decided to make different games because they are not played exclusively outdoors. They can have a foraging or scavenging aspect, and they’re related to types of strategy games.
“We have built this platform internally in-house that allows us to create these card-based games extremely quickly, so that we can design new game cards in a week instead of weeks or months,” said Khan.
“Atlas: Empires has proven that we can build a location-based game with the design pillars we had in mind,” Khan said. “With Atlas: Earth, we have segmented the entire planet into 30-foot-by-30-foot squares that you can purchase as a package.”
And if a player buys the most plots in the city of Austin, Texas, then that person becomes the mayor of the virtual city.
“We have a world full of virtual items that you can buy, and we’ll have landmarks that you can buy as well,” Khan said.
And Khan hopes the economy won’t be all about static objects. For example, you can dress up your virtual property and make it more beautiful by using wood from a virtual sawmill. Players should be able to sell their property to others for a profit and then reinvest that in other properties in the game.
Integrated with Unity
Since Unity powers most mobile games, this SDK has enabled millions of developers to integrate vertical location capabilities into any app built with the Unity engine, including location-based games, training apps, industrial and manufacturing applications, and beyond.
“Unity made it pretty transparent with a lot of technical work they did on their end,” Hight said. “They saw this as a unique opportunity.”
More recently, the plug-in has become a Unity Verified solution, which ensures that it is optimized for integration with the latest version of the Unity editor and provides a seamless experience for Unity developers. Developers who use the NextNav Pinnacle SDK can integrate it into any application built with the Unity engine.
“As with any new technology, you have your innovators and your early adopters, and I think we’re currently focusing on the kind of this class of innovators that see that,” Hight said. “We hope other developers start to incorporate this technology into their games, and success spawns success.”
A new SPAC
In June, NextNav agreed to go public through a merger agreement with Spartacus Acquisition Corporation, which is a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC). In the $ 1.2 billion deal, NextNav will take a shortcut to going public through a merger with Spartacus Acquisition, a publicly traded company, which was set up by investors to go public. The transaction is expected to close at the end of the third quarter of 2021 or at the start of the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
Part of the reason NextNav believes it has a strong enough business to go public is that many 911 emergency services will need vertical positioning data so that first responders can determine which floor to go to when someone make an emergency call from a large building.
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