Pokémon Go, Snapchat And The Growth Of Augmented Reality
Pokémon Go is a genuine phenomenon. Adults and kids alike have fully embraced the mobile game's call to "capture" Pokémon in the world around them. The success of Pokémon Go has added more than $9billion to Nintendo's value within one week of release, before it had even been released in the UK, Europe and Japan. And it has all been made possible thanks to Augmented Reality.
With Pokémon Go, Nintendo and Niantic have taken an established video game franchise and re-invented it for the 21st century. In the original games, players control a human character who travels around a fictional world collecting Pokémon. The aim of the game is to collect as many Pokémon as possible (the phrase used is "Gotta Catch 'Em All") and then battle opponents using the Pokémon that have been caught. Pokémon Go has done away with hiding Pokémon in fictional lands and has instead, using the phone's GPS and clock, placed them in the real world for people to hunt down and capture.
Augmented Reality is perfect for mobile phones because users take their pocket computers with them wherever they go, meaning that as they go about their lives, Augmented Reality can be layered on top of the world around them. It can add information to a tourist's walking tour, or make Pokémon appear in the carpark of your work.
Despite the huge success, Pokémon Go hasn't been without its negative headlines. Among the first stories to break were reports of players using Pokémon go while driving to capture Pokémon. There have also been privacy concerns over how the game controls a user's data, as well as stories of people having their gardens invaded by people looking for Pokémon. The issue of privacy, both for users and non-users, will continue to evolve as technology does, but these types of concerns will need to be addressed, especially when Augmented Reality becomes an established part of everyday life.
For many people, Snapchat, the mobile messaging service based around taking and swapping photos and videos, was the app that first introduced them to Augmented Reality. Snapchat saw the advantage of moving into Augmented Reality and added "lenses" that scans and recognises a user's face and then allows the user to apply an Augmented Reality skin that transforms the user into everything from a pirate to a dog. These aren't simply flat images placed on top of a user's face, instead these lenses can be interacted with. If a user opens their mouth while using the dog lens, a large, pink tongue appears on screen, flopping out their mouth. While this may seem like trivial nonsense to some, for Snapchat's 150 million daily users this was a glimpse of the future.
Google Glass is a famous early example of Augmented Reality, and while the glasses never took off as a consumer product, they did point to what was to come. Here at Kyria, we're very interested in Augmented Reality and its applications within our field of work. There are real benefits to introducing the technology into warehouse operations, and we believe it would fit in seamlessly with SIMPLE.
Augmented Reality has hit the headlines thanks to Pokémon Go, but its future may be far larger than any one app or game. Pokémon Go and Snapchat have shown that whether people realise it or not, Augmented Reality is now a normal part of life for a smartphone user. The next step will be to see how this technology moves forward. Will Augmented Reality make the transition from apps and games to real world, business applications? It's hard to say for sure, but with news of Boeing's decision to use Google Glass to help build airplanes, comes hope that this technology will be more than just a gimmick.