Augmented Reality Is Here With Pokemon Go. Are we ready for it?

Pokemon Go brought augmented reality (AR) to mainstream this past week and, well, it’s been interesting. We’ve seen people trespassing and driving cars dangerously slow around neighborhoods just to get that one Pokemon lying over in the weeds. Police warn of people targeting Pokemon users for assault and theft. Boyfriends are getting caught cheating by their girlfriends using GPS. The Holocaust Museum warned its attendees that this is not the place to be catching them all.

Phew. It’s been a week. Nintendo, via the platform Niantic built (check out the app Ingress– it might look familiar), launched Pokemon Go to users last Tuesday. In one week, we’ve seen a new world. I’ve literally seen people walking around my neighborhood that I’ve never seen before. It’s like the McPoyles on Always Sunny in Philadelphia coming out of the Winnebago to see the sun for the first time.

There are people out everywhere. They’re walking, riding bikes, hanging out in public place; it’s… it’s odd. And in a way, it’s beautiful.

In one week, I’ve seen more people walking and interacting within my neighborhood since I moved here last summer- or for the past ten years it seems. How do you explain this? People are moving. They are more active. They are socializing, sort of- we still have our social interaction issues to work out with tech), but hey, we are outside and we are up and moving. The physical activity activist- PActivist?- in me is fist pumping like crazy.

Personally, I feel Pokemon Go is a perfect storm. AR is a technology that technically isn’t new. It may be new to the masses, but it’s been here in different forms. Ingress, another Niantic development, looks and plays identical to Pokemon Go. Google Glass was pulled from the market possibly due to a concern of society not being ready for it. So, it can’t be the AR alone that spurred the last week phenomenon. Pokemon, the franchise, may get more credit here than AR. Nintendo rolled the dice on AR with one of their biggest franchises and it worked and worked big.  Take a look at Nintendo’s week in the stock market. Also, look up the daily active users (dau) it pulled and you’ll find Pokemon Go near Twitter territory. DAU is $$$$.

Either way, I’m pumped to see people enjoying AR. It’s a great technological concept that took Pokemon to bring it to the masses. AR will allow us to utilize the technology that aids us while still enjoying life. It enhances reality through augmentation and we are just scratching the surface as to what that means for us. You are only limited by your reality with this concept.

Maybe the PC and Mobile PC have been too heavy on tech and too light on reality. With Microsoft trying to reinvent the workspace using HoloLens and LinkedIN, maybe this kind of excitement and evolution is what the workplace needs as well. Heck, maybe this is what life needs: less tech and more reality. Or more tech mixed with reality.

This past week opens up discussion for what AR has in store for society. Society has certainly been disrupted. Good, long lasting technology usually has a high disruption rate. We are already seeing businesses adapting to AR by offering advertisements and special deals through the apps and other promotions. Our public facilities are being evolved into a new hybrid of technology hub and personal gathering centers. That’s unique. That’s new.  This is definitely a change for society. The biggest question is, though, are we ready for it?

About Dr. Zachary Binkley

Zachary W. Binkley, PhD is the former Assistant Professor and Program Director of Exercise and Movement Science Program. He is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Special Interest Group on Basketball.

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