Pokémon Go Proves We Want to Live in Our Own Augmented Realities

Jul 16, 2016 · 3 min read
Now there are virtual bugs on my carpet as well.

I wasn’t too surprised to see the popularity of Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go has (almost) perfectly capitalized on an entire generation both marked by an insatiable hunger for nostalgia and a native understanding of the digital connected world.

Pokemon Go is not only winning in terms of adoption, it’s paving the way for future experiences just like it. This is due to the fact that augmented reality is the core way of playing the game — not an add-on or optional feature. And people are really digging it.

The continuing success of Pokemon Go provides strong proof of a growing acceptance of augmented reality. Fans of Pokemon are not just playing a game; they’re playing and living within an extension of their reality. This is very interesting as augmented reality has largely been a back burner, “Oh, that’s kind of cool”-feature. Especially as this technology begins to be adapted in other forms of story-telling (sports, entertainment, learning, etc)

Is Pokemon Go the first use of augmented reality? Absolutely not. Ingress, the previous game by the studio behind Pokemon Go, Niantic, provided a lot of the inspiration and structure for the gameplay. Heck, as far as I can remember, Yelp has let people find restaurants around them using their Monocle feature.

There are debates happening online between what type of digital reality will “win”: augmented reality or virtual reality.

Companies like Facebook with Oculus or HTC and the Vive are betting on virtual reality headsets that provide “full immersion” experiences. Experiences that provide both sound and visual cues to trick your brain into thinking you are somewhere else. Rather than interacting with the world around you, barriers are removed and you are transported somewhere else entirely.

Augmented reality, the interaction between digital information and the real-world, has largely not broken into the mainstream conscience. Google, for example, is no stranger to augmented reality with it’s unsuccessful Google Glass venture.

The core promise of augmented reality, as demonstrated by Google Glass, is improving the way you interact with the current world around you. Rather than transporting you somewhere else, augmented reality features seek to improve your surrounding by adding a digital layer between you and your environment that adds relevant and contextual information.

You can make different arguments behind why Google Glass wasn’t successful including, well, the social stigma behind wearing the glasses.

But, as a whole, augmented reality has faced technological barriers preventing adoption. Technological restraints like the lack of access to fast and consistent mobile data, accuracy issues in geolocation, and sub-par cameras. This is no longer the case. We are finally at a stage where most people have devices that are more than capable.

The true missing link has been how you apply the technology.

Pokemon Go has proven that we want to live, interact, and play in new worlds.

And, finally, we are reaching a point where we, as a society, want these experiences and can finally get them.


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I talk about the weird overlap between what’s happening, where tech-business is going, and how to navigate it as a 20-something.