SoftBank Corp claimed it was the first Japanese operator to join a newly unveiled $20 million platform by Niantic for creating AR-based services, as it aims to boost customer experience with more immersive content.

In a statement, SoftBank explained through the adoption of Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit (ARDK) it will have access to Niantic’s content delivery service offerings including 5G Lab, AR Square and other apps.

The operator pledged to “fully utilise 5G communications and sophisticated AR technologies” to bring “cutting-edge” AR experiences, and will also work on boosting the adoption of the platform in the country.

Yesterday (8 November), Niantic launched a set of AR tools as part of its new ARDK platform, targeting all developers using the technology globally.

As part of the move, the company created Niantic Ventures which will invest $20 million in companies developing applications for the so-called “Real-World Metaverse” which strives to lay AR objects onto spaces in the physical world.

Initially available features include real-time mapping using camera sensors, a tool to identify different elements of a real-world environment for correct interaction, as well as a component for creating AR sessions with up to five players concurrently.

The kit is free of charge for developers of apps with fewer than 50,000 monthly active users and within the first six months for those who develop multiplayer APIs.

Niantic’s platform is used as a base of some of the most popular Niantic products, including AR-run games Pokemon Go and Pikmin Bloom.

The company’s move comes days after it unveiled plans to pull the plug on Harry Potter AR mobile game Wizards Unit.