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The Latest Augmented Reality: Pokémon GO

“I want to be the very best, that no one ever was. To catch them is my really test, to train them is my cause.”

That was many of our goals a decade ago – we wanted to be a Pokémon master. Fast forward to 2016, we have seen the transformation of Pokémon games into a worldwide phenomenon infiltrating the real world through augmented reality.

Augmented Reality is a live, direct or indirect, view of the real-world environment. Opposed to virtual reality, Augmented Reality is built on information from our existing environment such as GPS data, time, sound, and object recognition. It takes digital information and overlays onto the physical world through your device’s camera. The camera senses a target image in the real world, and then projects digital information over that image. As a result, Augmented Reality occurs in real-time, interacting with environmental elements.

Let’s all travel back to Pallet Town to talk more about Pokémon. Niantic, the developer’s behind Pokémon GO, has taken augmented reality, and evolved it into a dominating app in the market. Pokémon GO allows players to travel the real world and capture Pokémon. The game utilizes the device’s GPS and clock to decide which Pokémon you will encounter.

Augmented Reality apps such as Ingress, Zombies, Run!, or SkyMap have been out for quite a while. However, they have yet to reach the global success Pokémon GO is experiencing. They don’t have the strong brand recognition that Pokémon has, and have struggled to perfect the augmented reality experience. These apps limit augmented reality to image recognition, not giving users more interactive freedom with their environment.

Since its release, Pokémon GO has been downloaded over 7.5 million times just in the U.S. alone. The app has surpassed Snapchat, Tinder, Instagram, and Facebook in daily usage. Pokémon GO has added over $10 million in the market value to Nintendo Co. – enough money to buy a lifetime supply of master balls.

Businesses were quick to take advantage of Pokémon GO’s augmented reality features. Businesses who are pre-determined as Pokéstops by the app are seeing more people walk through their doors to catch Pokémon. These businesses and surrounding stores are also purchasing in-game lures to generate more Pokémon in the area. As a result, business owners are using Pokémon GO as advertising to generate store traffic and sales. Click here to learn how businesses can use Pokémon GO as a marketing tool.

However, just like the misdoings of Team Rocket, Pokémon GO has run into problems. In St. Louis, Missouri, suspects took advantage of Pokémon GO’s lure module to literally lure users to their location and rob them. Other examples include a teen being stabbed, players wandering into people’s homes marked as Pokéstops, people getting into car accidents, and many more.

Despite these issues, Pokémon GO is still growing and has not reached its final evolution. I have yet to download the app, but the temptation is strong (As I currently hover my thumb over the download button). Augmented reality is becoming a part of our lives, and it’s a trend here to stay for now. Until then, keep catching Pokémon to your heart’s desire.

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