Pokemon Go - A Defining Moment for Augmented Reality?

Pokemon Go - A Defining Moment for Augmented Reality?



The new smartphone game, which is storming the download charts in the US, Australia and New Zealand after its release, is quickly becoming a commercial and cultural phenomenon. Already, in just a matter of days, it's more popular than Tinder. And tech commentators have talked about this being a "watershed moment" for augmented reality, even though the technology used in the game — location tracking with GPS, and digital images overlaid on what your phone's camera sees — isn't especially new.

Certainly, if anyone's been unclear about what exactly AR is up to this point, Pokemon Go has singlehandedly created a handy reference point. It could now be argued that anyone vaguely familiar with the game will automatically understand the essence of AR. As the field starts to take off, it's perfect timing for such a public, easily accessible, introduction to AR.

At the same time, it's showing us a lot of the potential of AR games. The Pokemon are placed within real-life views captured by the phones' cameras, and the purpose of the game is for players to search real world locations to find them. 

D
oing so gets them outside, moving around, visiting new places, and in many cases interacting with others playing the game as they cluster together in Pokemon "gyms". This is a substantial change to the traditional image of gaming: players sitting inside a darkened room for hours at a time, removed from any outside influence or social interaction. Pokemon Go has even been linked to improving mental health issues.

Even if it doesn't endure (the game is quite simple and the interest might burn out), it seems likely that the game's success will likely spur a host of copycat games. The boom might also inspire newly converted fans of AR to try out existing apps.

The question is if, and when, will keen users make the jump from mobile AR to using a dedicated device? What's certain is that the future of AR is brighter than ever.



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