Imagine playing fetch with a delightful virtual pet named Leopard through augmented reality (AR) on your phone. This interactive experience, reminiscent of popular games like Pokemon Go, is now a reality thanks to Niantic, the creators of Pokemon Go. But it doesn’t stop there. Niantic envisions this as a prototype for a future world of AR glasses, which may arrive in the next decade. Excitingly, it also marks the debut of a new Amazon shopping service, adding an intriguing dimension to the gameplay.

More than Just a Virtual Pet: Peridot, available for Android and iOS, is an app that introduces AR-enabled virtual pets, drawing inspiration from the concept of Tamagotchi. Originally conceived as a design idea for Niantic’s vision of virtual companions on future AR glasses and headsets, Peridot has evolved into a fully realized game. It offers a wide range of hatchable and breedable pets that users can nurture and feed through their smartphones.

While Peridot shares the spirit of Niantic’s other AR phone games like Pokemon Go and Pikmin Bloom, it introduces novel features. Unlike the map-based and socially oriented experiences of its predecessors, Peridot’s interactions with the world are distinct. The game leverages the rear camera of your phone to instantly map your surroundings, allowing the virtual pets to navigate obstacles, jump on tables, and seemingly run behind objects. This technology resembles Apple’s use of the LiDAR sensor on iPhones but offers seamless compatibility with a wider range of devices. Furthermore, Peridot employs semantic understanding, enabling the app to recognize real-world objects such as flowers, pets, chairs, and walls.

Niantic views Peridot as a testbed for its AR technology while collaborating with Qualcomm on the development of AR glasses. As major players like Apple, Google, Samsung, and Qualcomm work toward mixed-reality headsets, the question arises: What kinds of apps will be suitable for these devices? Niantic aims to explore and provide answers through its ongoing development of AR experiences.

Peridot’s virtual pet possesses some AI capabilities, although not as advanced as models like ChatGPT. Niantic acknowledges the possibility of enhancing the AI-infused AR companion in the future. Additionally, Peridot introduces an intriguing collaboration with Amazon through a new service called Amazon Anywhere. By linking an Amazon account within the Peridot app, users gain access to a built-in store featuring real-life merchandise based on the virtual pets. While currently focused on physical retail, Amazon sees this service as a stepping stone toward immersive shopping experiences in other games and AR applications.

In typical free-to-play fashion, Peridot offers in-game purchases of virtual clothing and toys for the virtual pets, as well as the option to hatch new Peridots at a cost. Niantic generates revenue through optional microtransactions. Amazon Anywhere’s merchandise store currently does not overlap with Niantic’s virtual product sales, but the evolving nature of augmented reality leaves room for potential integration in the future.

Peridot is an endearing and free pet game that showcases the possibilities of AR technology. While the debut of Amazon Anywhere within the Peridot app adds an intriguing shopping dimension, the true potential of Peridot and its integration with future mixed-reality headsets remains to be seen. As we await further developments, it is clear that Niantic’s innovative approach to AR gaming and Amazon’s exploration of immersive shopping align with the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of augmented reality.

By Impact Lab