How This Former Circus Performer Is Turning Google Maps Into the Next Big Thing in Gaming

When 26-year-old Clementine Jacoby thinks back on her childhood, she remembers using printed maps to navigate strange new cities — one of the many tools that smartphones have rendered largely obsolete. “My parents, I think, are just chronically bored,” she says in a conference room at Google’s New York offices. “We moved around a ton, and I was also sort of an agitated and ambitious kid and traveled a bunch on my own.”

It’s perhaps fitting then that, after a year-long stint as a circus performer and graduating from Stanford University with a degree in symbolic systems (a program that focuses on a combination of cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and human-computer interaction), Jacoby ended up working as a product manager for Google Maps. It’s a role that Jacoby feels like was made for her. “My brain is like a terrible filing cabinet, I can’t even remember my own phone number,” she confesses. “But it’s a very good processing machine.”

Much like a computer, which processes raw data and presents it in a format that humans can understand, Jacoby’s team at Google packages complex information in a way that video game creators can comprehend and use. Jacoby oversees a new product initiative at the search giant that lets mobile app developers integrate Google Maps’ model of the real world into their smartphone games through the popular game engine Unity, making it possible to turn actual buildings and locations into elements within a game. Google unveiled the product on March 14 and recently showcased it during the Game Developers Conference, an industry event for games creators. Upcoming games like Ghostbusters World, Jurassic World Alive, and The Walking Dead: Our World will be among the first to use Google’s new tech.

Maps are already a vital underpinning to many of the technology world’s best-known offerings, like ride-hailing apps and city guides. Google now believes they could also serve the foundation for the next generation of games and other augmented reality experiences, which blend digital information with the physical space around users. Much like how Mapbox provides digital mapping tools for a wide variety of apps and websites, ranging from The Weather Channel to travel guide publisher Lonely Planet, Google Maps could provide the data that takes augmented reality apps from interesting concepts to game-changing experiences. “It’s a building block,” says Jeffrey Hammond, a vice president and principal analyst at research firm Forrester. “You can’t do large scale experiences without great location data.”

While games like Pokémon Go already use augmented reality, the new Google Maps integration gives developers more precise insight into a player’s surroundings. “Instead of giving you the outline of a squiggly blob, we can tell you that blob is a park,” says Jacoby. “And now you can fill it with grass and trees and umbrellas.” In its GDC demonstration, Google showcased how blank renderings of Manhattan skyscrapers could be modified to look like a medieval village or a candy-themed city.

Google’s goal is to help …read more

Source:: Time – Technology


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