Lightship turns one! Looking back at our first year
To celebrate, we're reflecting on the experiences built by Lightship developers and the products released this year.
celebrating one year of lightship ARDK
celebrating one year of lightship ARDK


  • Product updates on Lightship ARDK and Lightship VPS
  • NEW: New learning hub with guides and resources to help developers build
  • NEW: Exclusive Lightship VPS challenge for developers starts November 14th

This month marks one year since we launched Niantic Lightship, inviting developers to join us in building the real-world metaverse and bringing their AR experiences to life.

Over the last year, it’s been exciting to see how so many of you have taken these tools and created incredible, immersive AR experiences with Lightship. It’s been inspiring to see how many of you share our vision of making the world an even more engaging and magical place by overlaying AR content on top of it

We know that delivering on this vision would not be possible without early adopters and risk takers like you. That’s why to celebrate our one-year anniversary, we’ve put together a video looking back at the experiences you’ve built with the products released this year and sharing a glimpse of what’s to come.

Niantic’s technology. Developer’s magic.

Last November, we released Lightship ARDK, a Unity SDK that gives developers the same AR and mapping tools we use to power some of Niantic’s most popular games. With Lightship ARDK, developers now have the tools to bring their AR creations to life. Since then, we’ve continued to release updates to ARDK, introduced improvements based on your feedback, new semantic channels, improved developer tools, and more.

Six months ago, we released a new feature for developers, our Lightship Visual Positioning System. To truly unlock real-world AR, developers first need a way to quickly and accurately determine the position and orientation of a user’s device. With VPS, developers can accurately localize users, their devices, and persist AR content with centimeter-level precision. This level of precision enables developers to leverage the world to create unique AR experiences and layer AR information, game objects, and art in a much more realistic, immersive, and engaging way.

Two months ago, we brought these same capabilities to the web empowering any web developer to bring their experiences to real places in the real world.

Today, Lightship VPS is available at over 125,000 locations across 125 global cities - meaning more than 250 million people are within a 5 minute walk of a VPS-activated Wayspot.

A map of the 50,000 VPS-activated Wayspots available in May, compared to the 120,000 VPS-activated Wayspots available today.

Bringing stories, history, and music to life

When we launched last November, we shared an early look at the experiences developers were developing using Lightship. From creating another way to experience music and art at Coachella, to encouraging a new generation of PGA golfers, to bringing the museum outside with the Science Museum, we’ve been impressed at the variety of experiences developers are building with Lightship.

Adding real-world locations with Lightship VPS unlocked a whole new type of experience. Developers quickly saw the benefits of being able to precisely anchor content to the real-world and are building AR experiences for art, music, education, health, and more.

In the past year, thousands of developers have built with Lightship. But what has been especially impressive is how new and seasoned AR developers quickly get up and running with dozens of winning creations across multiple challenges. From magical flashlights to dueling wizards to snowball fights, we’ve loved seeing the variety of ideas developers have shown are possible in AR.

Connecting IRL around the world

In addition to engaging with developers in Discord and over email, we feel incredibly grateful at the number of developers we were able to connect with in person this year. More importantly, we loved seeing how you connected with each other by forming teams, local meetup groups, and more.

These events include hosting a select group of talented developers for a month at AR House in LA, sharing coffee and a happy hour at GDC, and gathering with hundreds of developers at our first conference, Lightship Summit.

This fall, we topped it all off by spending the weekends with hundreds of talented developers in our key VPS launch cities of London, Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles during the Lightship VPS World Tour.

Continuing to build the real-world metaverse, together

As we close out this year and celebrate our first birthday, we want to say thank you to all of you for an incredible year. We are making history together; the tools we are building at Niantic Lightship and the AR experiences you are creating are levels above anything else that has been made in the history of AR.

To continue supporting you, today we’re excited to announce two new developments. First, we have a new set of resources in our learning hub, including new guides and templates, to help you build with Lightship. Second, to celebrate those who have gone above and beyond by building with us in every challenge, participating in our world tour, and supporting our virtual community events, we’re launching our first Lightship VPS challenge exclusively for this devoted group of developers. We can’t wait to see what they create during this challenge!

Whether you’ve been a part of the Lightship community since the beginning, or you just signed up last week, we know we cannot push the limits of AR without early adopters and risk takers like you.

Going into our second year, we can’t wait to bring you new tools and features that you’ll use to create engaging and magical real-world AR experiences!

Published November 10, 2022
Ready to build?