The Niantic Project: What Is Google Up To This Time?

Chris CrumIT Management

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Google's Niantic Labs recently launched the Field Trip App for Android. The company described it as "your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you."

Here's a refresher:

Basically, it shows you stuff that it thinks you'll be interested in when you're near something that fits the bill. The Atlantic ran a pretty interesting piece about it last week, talking with John Hanke, the former Google Maps chief, who now runs Niantic Labs inside of Google.

Now, the "Niantic Project" has appeared as some kind of mysterious attention-getter. Googlers like John Mueller are sharing this Google+ post:

Niantic Project

Something is very wrong. 

The world is changing... maybe it already did, and we just didn't notice.

Every day I receive more pieces of the puzzle, small and chaotic bits of data that seem to crystallizing into... something bigger, something more.

Help me discover and share the truth. I don't know what's at stake yet, but my spine is beginning to tingle with the possibilities.

Niantic Project
What is this "Niantic Project"?

If you go to the site, you'll find this video:

Here's what the voice in the video says if you don't feel like watching it:

"There's more to the world than we can truly see. You sensed it, but you cannot tell. Something is very wrong. Strange occurrences, visions affecting us. Are we being watched? I'm a truthseeker with many questions. The most important is : What is the Niantic Project?"

You'll also find this video of a guy getting a "glitchy phone" from an online auction, which makes his phone show something when he points it at statues.

The site has a "word of the day":

Niantic Project Word Of The Day

And an XM Study:

XM Study

In the comments of the Google+ post, one person asks if the project is Glass related. Hanke did mention Glass in the Atlantic interview, but the phone video suggests it's more of a software-related thing (which could mean phones and Glass).

"You've got things like Google Glass coming," Hanke said in the article. "And one of the things with Field Trip was, if you had [Google Glass], what would it be good for? Part of the inspiration behind Field Trip was that we'd like to have that Terminator or Iron Man-style annotation in front of you, but what would you annotate?"

Another person in the Google+ comments suggests that the Niantic Project could be just a viral marketing campaign for Field Trip, which is certainly a possibility. Either way, it's almost definitely augmented reality-related.

Here's the Niantic Project Twitter timeline in realtime, featuring tweets dating back to July:

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.