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Google's 'Ingress' augmented reality game puts Android users into a battle against worldwide mind control

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Augmented reality has long been an interest at Google — perhaps best seen in its Google Glass headset — but the company is taking that fascination in a new direction with the announcement of Ingress, a sci-fi AR game that will play out on your Android handset. Details are sketchy so far (fitting in with the game's mysterious, "fight the power" message), but it seems that users will collect "XM" (short for exotic matter) at various locations with their smartphone, and then spend that at other locations (known as portals) to unlock various missions. Portals will apparently be easily accessible public places; think libraries, museums, and the like. The conflict comes from two factions — you can either be part of the Enlightened (who wish to use the newfound power) or the Resistance (who fight against it).

All Things D spoke with John Hanke of Google's Niantic Labs (whose name features prominently in the game's trailer as a mysterious organization behind Ingress' events), who said the game's concept is "something like World of Warcraft, where everyone in world is playing the same game." Ironically enough (for a smartphone game), Niantic Labs is hoping that Ingress will get people out of their houses and out into the world — Hanke says you'll be like "a rat in a maze" tracking things on your phone, but you can also go back to your computer to review your overall progress. Given that Niantic's first release was the location-aware guidebook known as Field Trip, seeing another location-based project from the group isn't a huge surprise — though the implementation is definitely a new territory for Google. If this mystery piques your interest, you can sign up for an invite to the game's beta test now, though there's no word on when it'll be freely available.