Pokémon Go and the future it holds for AR in the race against VR

Pokémon, first released in the mid-90s as a game for Nintendo’s Gameboy is suddenly at the center of the resurgence of a technology that has the potential to drastically change how people interact with many of their gadgets. Pokémon Go is an augmented reality monster success. User’s chase characters that are hiding in the physical world with your tracking capable mobiles. Simple, yet amazing. Finally, a technology that persuades people to get off the couch! The game is doing more than asking people to find Pokémon’s, it is literally single-handedly ushering a new world of computing that has been living in the shadows till now.

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Augmented reality is already big in the enterprise sector. What does augmented reality mean for other apps and businesses looking forward to using augmented reality? For one thing, it is worth noting that an app can be designed to draw attention to what is beyond the phone. Imagine an app that works with your smart home system and offers an augmented reality view of energy being utilized by different electronics in real time, on your phone screen, as you move around your devices. Currently, it’s being used to design cars, assist professionals, improve brand recognition and a lot of other interesting things. Similar apps also have implications in the medical field, or in smartphone based educational materials, and beyond. HoloLens, using Windows 10 as a core, which a horde of developers are already developing for, could eventually be the next iPhone of the augmented reality world. There have been apprehensions about whether augmented reality would find acceptance with consumers, with a big headset to be worn. The biggest failure in this field is no doubt Google Glass.

Pokémon Go is a rare successful example of how the digital and the physical world are able to coexist. Augmented reality can be the way out for now, without the big headsets and wearable’s, potentially making it more attractive to the consumer.

Virtual reality remains ahead of augmented reality in overall development, with rapidly releasing options from the likes of Oculus (Rift) and HTC (Vive). However, virtual reality sales present a different picture. They are certainly not as high as expected since no virtual reality app has become a major game changer yet. This gives leeway to augmented reality offerings such as Pokémon Go to utilize the already booming mobile platform and potentially prove augmented reality to be a more attractive option of the two.

The technology powering Pokémon Go is similar to what powered the Google’s augmented-reality game Ingress, released a couple of years ago. The suddenly household brand name of Pokémon Go has made the public more acquainted with augmented reality now than it was in 2014. This has created a “perfect storm” time for augmented reality to become the next big thing, and developers should take a cue.

The popularity of the game serves as a lead-in to what augmented-reality developers believe will be a much more interactive experience in a few years’ time, as applications improve in such a way that they are integrated seamlessly into, and enhance a user’s real world. Headsets from big companies Microsoft, which released HoloLens to developers earlier this year, may help tilt the needle in favor of augmented reality a little more.

Google and smartphone-based technology Tango could improve the experience of Pokémon Go and similar offerings. Who knows what else we will be doing with our smartphones besides moving around to catch these creatures! Imagine a backyard war of all the Pokémon’s in your home using HoloLens! That aside, the real world applications could change the way we interact, work, and consume entertainment. It is limitless.

 

Pokémon Go making ripples across the business landscape:

1. Pokémon Go as a marketing tool

Bloggers have noticed that Pokémon Go is not just the next form of native marketing, but a new marketing channel.

Here is a quote from one blog: “This is the scene, 30+ people playing Pokémon Go, with the majority of them seated at the restaurant. Anything else you can think of that happens when you sit at a restaurant?”

Pokestops are in-game locations tied to real world landmarks, such as churches, businesses, statues, etc. Their purpose is to give users items to catch Pokémon’s and take care of them. Also, Lures are purchasable in-game content that can be used at a Pokestop to attract Pokémon for about 30 minutes. This means that if users go to a spot where a Lure has been used, they do not have to walk around looking for a Pokémon like normal, but instead, wait till they come to them.

So if Pokéstops can be tied to real-world locations of businesses, and Lures can make catching a Pokémon lot easier then businesses could use Lures to draw in Pokémon for users.

Businesses are already advertising that they have a Pokémon inside.

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2. Pokémon Go’s popularity challenges other platforms

If the number of Pokémon games released (more than 50) and their popularity was not already enough of a clue that the franchise is a runaway hit for Nintendo, then the app’s popularity should have dispelled any lingering doubts. The app’s use has already overtaken Tinder’s app use, installed on 5.16 percent of all Android phones compared to just more than 2 percent for Tinder, as per Business Insider. Also, it is set to conquer Twitter’s number of daily active users, a little bit more than 3 percent of all Android owners in the U.S. were on it, compared to about 3.5 percent on Twitter.

“More recent data is not available, but ‘Pokémon Go’ may have already overtaken Twitter.” – Business Insider

3. Business on the home front

Nintendo’s stock price soared by 25 percent on Monday after jumping up late last week with the app’s launch, adding $7 billion to its market value, as reported by Forbes. But it is not enough yet. Equity analysts are of the opinion that the game needs to generate at least $140 million to $196 million per month to make a meaningful contribution to Nintendo’s profits, according to CNBC.

4. Developers embracing augmented reality readily

Suddenly, there is a realization among software industry professionals and independent app developers as well. Pokémon Go has led many to believe that their next game should be based on augmented reality concepts. A few clones have already started popping up in the app stores but are yet to gain any credible traction. But, nevertheless, it is safe to say that developers are convinced that they need to use the world around them through a camera lens to be successful. Whether augmented reality is the next big concept in the mobile gaming industry, only time will tell.

If augmented reality is accepted by the consumers, it can become the next big medium in the coming years. In that case, augmented reality would leapfrog virtual reality. It would be all around you, augmenting your world. The wildfire-like spread of Pokémon Go is not just due to the people who have played Pokémon 20 years ago and were waiting for something new. It brings to the light the fact that majority of people now have a camera and a computing device on hand at all times, and these are not just useful in situ and have a very social element present. It will be fascinating to see where augmented reality takes us and what the future holds.