Announcing Teleportal — the XR Telepresence Platform
Build your own cross-platform XR experiences.
Hey there, my name is Thomas Suarez. I am a 19-year-old software engineer and a computer science student at Georgia Tech. Since 2015, I have been building an AR laser tag game called WiTag. Prototyping, testing and releasing WiTag has led to Teleportal — the underlying XR platform that fuels WiTag. Our small team has decided to fully switch gears to Teleportal, focusing our efforts on making a simple, powerful SDK and getting it into the hands of eager developers and content creators.
Teleportal is a platform that allows XR developers and content creators to create shared, persistent experiences that are networked in real-time. It works across platforms (iOS / Android / VR / PC / Mac) and interfaces with the Unity game engine. We are thrilled to release the Teleportal SDK in an early-access preview!
Involving the expanding XR community in the ongoing development of Teleportal is very important to us. If you’re interested in experimenting with Teleportal, please feel free to join our Discord community.
Our long-term vision of XR
We believe that XR — the combination of virtual and mixed reality technologies — is the key to the future of collaboration, digital media, and the Internet itself. XR has developed immensely over the past few decades, but we have more to do as an industry before it is fully democratized. We see the smartphone as the stepping stone to an XR future, where accessible, socially-responsible smart glasses are our primary computing devices.
Future interfaces will be wildly antithetic to a traditional graphical user interface. We are all spatial beings, and our computing devices should be naturally skeuomorphic.
Our team is developing Teleportal as a gateway to this future.
What makes Teleportal different
With 6D, Niantic, Apple, and Google all building AR platforms, is there room for another? We believe there is. Teleportal is not just for mobile AR; it encompasses a broader XR future.
We are releasing an SDK that natively bridges XR experiences across all major computing platforms (iOS, Android, VR, PC, Mac). Users can virtually “teleport” across physical locations, joining your app from any platform and any location. For example, two friends could be playing AR laser tag in the local park, while another friend participates in that same live game from VR at their home.
Teleportal seamlessly synchronizes user locations and coordinate systems between devices, allowing you to focus on creating your experience. It also automatically saves and retrieves persistent items in the shared geo space.
Teleportal SDK integrates seamlessly with your existing Unity project, converting it into a crossplatform XR app with ease. You can choose to either integrate the SDK into your own standalone app, or have us host your XR experience in the upcoming Teleportal app. The advantage of the hosting approach is that multiple Teleportal experiences can run in the same location simultaneously, making your app more visible in the eyes of potential users, as well as providing a cohesive experience for users.
And we have a lot more in the pipeline.
We are excited to involve the expanding XR community in the ongoing development and release of Teleportal, and would really like it to grow organically.
Currently, Teleportal is released in an early access preview. This means that the SDK is evolving, and features may change. Please keep this in mind when experimenting with Teleportal. We aim to finalize much of this soon for production-ready applications, and invite all XR content creators and developers to join us on our Discord community, where we host open community discussions.
Preface: Here is a brief history of the WiTag project, which has led to the release of Teleportal.
I had the original idea for WiTag back in 2012. The first version used Apple’s Game Center matchmaking platform, with a very simple server I wrote in PHP. Before AR was common on mobile, this app’s server relayed GPS locations and fires between clients. The concept was there, but I had school and other projects (such as my ORB 3D Printer) so it was paused for a while.
Flash forward to 2015, when I restarted the project, and invited some friends to help with code and field tests. We would design, then code, then go outside to test. During the course of these tests, we ran into problems that required us to run inside and outside repeatedly. For example, we had a GPS inaccuracy challenge, which after trial and error, was ultimately solved by increasing the precision of the double values in our database.
In 2016, we saw augmented reality as an opportunity to improve the game. At this point, ARKit was still about a year away from being announced or available to developers. Camera support was added to the game, allowing us to overlay items on GPS-guided locations.
Soon after, I was invited to join a secret (at the time) show that Apple was producing, called Planet of the Apps. This was to inspire the next generation of app developers to learn how to create apps, and included entrepreneurs such as will.i.am and Gary Vaynerchuk.
I pitched WiTag to will.i.am and the rest of the panel, and Will generously took me under his wing as a product advisor. We began working together on the business and design elements of WiTag.
After pitching to Lightspeed Venture Partners on Planet of the Apps, they invested $100k in WiTag Inc, the company I founded for WiTag Laser Tag and related AR projects. This vastly accelerated our development.
Before launching on the App Store alongside Planet of the Apps last August, we conducted approximately 20 alpha field tests at parks. We had some really awesome friends who became repeat alpha testers, and we are so grateful for their time and feedback into the project.
After ARKit was released at Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, we integrated it into WiTag Laser Tag, and it radically enhanced the positional tracking. We were among the first developers on the App Store to support ARKit during its launch with iOS 11.
This year, we decided to pivot to an SDK, therefore opening up the evolving technology we created for WiTag Laser Tag. Welcome to Teleportal.
As I head back to Atlanta to study computer science at Georgia Tech, Teleportal is just getting started. I am excited to take Teleportal to the next level with our teams in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Feel free to be in touch via the Discord community; your feedback helps guide the development of Teleportal! We can’t wait to see what you’ll build :)
I want to say thank you to some of the people who have been there to support this journey. It’s just the beginning. On to the future!
- Ryan Reede (software development & art)
- C. Dillon Martin Hall (software development)
- Raymond Lo (product design)
- Amir Yacaman (software development)
- WiTag Alpha Testers
- Derek Switaj
- Stuart Krasnow
- Linh Le
- will.i.am (Planet of the Apps)
- Aaron Batalion (partner at Lightspeed)
- Katya Bozzi, Erick Bozzi & Scott Golden (STAR Education)
- My family