Go back just a few months and you would find Pokemon merchandise in the bargain buckets of many a high street shop. The same bargain buckets that have you rifling through packets of loom bands and Panini stickers to find cheap party bag fillers for your kid’s birthday party. Not now though. Pokemon is firmly back on the A- list shelves and it’s all thanks to Pokemon Go, the Augmented Reality game that’s come out of the blue and hit us like a tornado.
The first time I’d heard of it was from one of my friends in the US talking on Facebook about arranging Pokemon Go hunting weekends with his friends and their kids. This was a matter of weeks ago and I had no idea what he was talking about. But I certainly do now.
On the way to London at the weekend people on the train around me were checking their phones for Voltorbs (see I know the names already) and I’ve seen grown men whoop with excitement that they’ve caught another one outside WH Smith in Beckenham High Street. Just like the Pokemon Go characters it’s all around us. In the US people spend more time on the game than they do on Twitter, and it’s happening here.
So where to next?
This is just the start of AR as far as gaming is concerned and I’ve no doubt we’ll be hooked on the next one soon, then the one after that, and the one after that.
Then we’ll get parental advice on safe gaming and motorist warnings as people wander across roads without looking while fixed on their phones
But what about AR being used in areas other than mobile gaming? Where is that going? How will brands use it for marketing? The Wall Street Journal has begun aggregating virtual reality content in its digital editions, even offering viewers instructions n how to watch the material, so its happening in the media. Pepsi used AR images to surprise unsuspecting commuters waiting for a bus with scary monsters popping out of what was just a like a glass screen at a bus shelter. Lego used Augmented Reality kiosks to bring their models to life in their stores. These are just some of the ways brands have been experimenting with the concept. Until now it’s been the tip of the iceberg for AR. Now that Pokemon Go has made it into the mainstream and we start to embrace it get set for much more as creative minds are let loose on this incredible technology.