Pokémon GO might not be as popular as it used to be, especially amid a pandemic that has many of us staying home as much as we can, but the company behind it is nevertheless working on improving the game. As such, Niantic has announced that it will start testing reality blending next month, which will allow Pokémon to hide behind real-world objects that block your view, just as though they were real.
The feature has been in development for at least two years and looks like it's finally ready for a field test. Back when we first reported on the tech, Niantic revealed that it's based on its in-house Real World Platform, which uses machine learning to map and track objects in 3D space. The company doesn't explain the inner workings of its solution in the latest announcement, but the demo below does look pretty similar to Google's Depth API that enables similar real-world occlusion for AR objects.
To improve this feature in the future and to help Pokémon with spatial awareness, trainers level 40 or higher will be able to take videos of PokéStops and Gym locations, helping Niantic create machine-readable, accurate 3D maps of these places — just like Portal Scanning for Ingress. The company will automatically blur out faces, license plates, and other potentially recognizable objects, and uploaded data will be anonymized instantaneously.
Reality blending will roll out to a limited, random selection of trainers that play on a Samsung Galaxy S9 or S10, or a Google Pixel 3 or 4 starting next month. An expansion of the test run to more people and devices is planned for the future.