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Version: 3.2

Creating Location AR Experiences with VPS

With Lightship VPS you now have the power to determine a user’s position and orientation with centimeter-level accuracy - in seconds. You can use Lightship VPS to create location-based AR experiences that connect the real world with the digital one. Content can be anchored to these locations so they can persist over AR sessions. VPS makes augmented reality feel more relevant to the communities that live within these locations and gives users new reasons to explore the world around them.


This is a Public Beta feature and functionality may change in a future release. For more information on ARDK feature launch types like Public Beta, see Lightship Launch Types.

You can use VPS to do the following:

  1. Using one or a handful of Public Locations from the Geospatial Browser, author content against a 3D mesh within Unity.
  2. At runtime, allow end-users to place content relative to any Public Location.
  3. Create and use a Test Scan for prototyping.

With Shared AR’s VPS Colocalization you can also enable multiple users to easily join the same session and play within a Public Location.

One example use case for VPS is a geo-caching AR game. Players can localize their devices at nearby Public Locations. You can create and "hide" virtual objects at the location for other players to find.

Location AR currently provides these features:

  • Public Locations are unique or notable, publicly accessible, real-world locations that are VPS-Activated and apps can engage with.
  • The VPS Coverage API which lets you discover Public Locations that are VPS-Activated.
    • VPS Coverage Areas are geographic regions where users can localize with VPS and show the area around a Public Location where users can localize.
    • VPS Localization Targets are real-world images of Public Locations that users can track with their device to localize.
  • The Geospatial Browser (Beta) allows you to search, nominate, and find Public Locations across the globe. You can select the location you want to use for your project and download the associated 3D mesh assets.
  • Test Scans are VPS locations in your surrounding area to test with using the Niantic Wayfarer App.
  • AR Location Manager allows you to easily persist content at Public Locations. You can download a mesh from the Geospatial Browser, import it into Unity, and add an AR Location within the AR Location Manager. Then you can drag and drop content onto the 3D mesh and find it in the location later.

Niantic also provides the following to help you develop your VPS-enabled AR experience:

  • The Niantic Wayfarer App allows you to capture and submit scans at Public Locations to improve the coverage of Lightship VPS. You can also use the app to create Private VPS Locations for your own rapid testing and development. Finally, the Wayfarer App can be used to test localization at Public Locations and Private VPS Locations.
  • A VPS developer portal on that lets you visualize Public Locations and manage Private VPS Locations.

Lightship VPS APIs make requests to the VPS backend, which needs to receive user information such as user location and an ID unique to the user using your app to make the requests. To facilitate this, ARDK provides a User ID data element that’s automatically used in Lightship VPS requests. This User ID is considered private user data, and your app will need to provide privacy policies and guidance for handling private user data, as described in ARDK and Data Privacy.

Next Steps