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Ingress, the original augmented reality app from Niantic, the creators of Pokémon Go, is taking over Tokyo with a holographic portal that lets you see the state of the game in real-time.

Japanese vending machines are known for housing some of the world’s most cutting-edge technology within their designs, bringing us everything from bottles of self-freezing Coca-Cola to ground coffee and even personalised ink stamps. Now Japan’s premier green tea company, Ito En, is bringing out a brand new contraption that’s making news around the country, and despite sitting next to a row of vending machines in Tokyo, this one won’t be dispensing any drinks.

Passers-by have been puzzled by the futuristic-looking equipment, wondering how it works and what it does, but fans of the augmented reality mobile game that preceded Pokémon Go will be able to spot the familiar logo and colour combinations from the game called Ingress.

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First released in 2012 for Android devices and two years later for Apple’s iOS, Ingress was wowing players with augmented reality way before Pokémon Go made international headlines this year. Developed by the same software development company, Niantic, the location-based game involves two teams of players, or “agents”, who seek to control “portals” at culturally significant places, which include landmarks and public art or monuments. The two factions, “The Resistance” and “The Enlightened”, compete against each other for control of geographical areas by linking portals to create virtual “control fields”, until one is deemed to have “ownership” of the city. The game is so popular it has a huge worldwide following, with players travelling to different countries to help their overseas allies gain control of local cities.

▼ To get a quick understanding of the game, check out the comprehensive summary below.

Japanese drink manufacturer Ito En played a role in the game last year, when 2,000 of their vending machines became portals within the game. Following on from the project, the company decided to blur the boundary between game and reality even further by creating a new machine, complete with sound effects and a 3-D hologram display, to connect agents in the real world to the in-game action with at-a-glance updates and statistics.

▼ The “XM-Profiler” was installed next to a row of vending machines at Venus Fort in Tokyo’s Odaiba area on 14 May this year.



While the XM-Profiler is delighting Ingress fans in Tokyo, people with no knowledge of the game have been posting pictures and videos of the contraption online, with its location next to a row of drink machines confusing them into thinking it might be a futuristic new vending machine.

By combining sound effects and 3-D holograms in the new equipment, Ito En is able to play with technology that might very well see some innovative vending machines produced in the near future. To take a closer look at what the future might hold, check out the video showing details of the machine below.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Top Image: YouTube/Inukai Hiroshi
Insert Image: Ito En Press Release
Screenshots: YouTube/Inukai Hiroshi