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Pokémon Go: Comeback of the virtual world

On the 6th of July 2016, the popular series “Pokémon” came back in a new way: Niantic developed the application “Pokémon Go”- based on GPS and Augmented Reality (AR) – for iOS and Android.

What exactly does AR mean?

AR is a computerized extension of reality. In an app, this means a digital extension of the “real” world with virtual elements. For “Pokémon Go”, this features different Pokémon appearing in various locations around the world.

How new is AR?

Since 2003, the developer Metaio GmbH has specialised in AR. The company was bought by Apple in 2015 and continued to develop a new Virtual Reality (VR) map app. In March 2016, Microsoft swiftly became a competitor and presented the HoloLense: AR-glasses that add digital graphics to reality. The concept behind it is to design holograms like in “Star Wars” and create tangible video chats – Microsoft calls this “Holoportation”.

AR is a familiar face in the marketing industry as well, with companies like Otto, Deutsche Bahn, Brille24 and Lego already using it. Lego Fusion, for example, brings Lego bricks “to life”. People build their constructions and then design their own world with the help of the app. Kids are loving it!

The film and entertainment industry has also leveraged this tech in the past few years. In 2014, Lionsgate and StudioCanal experimented with a GPS and AR app for the release of “Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2“. Players who supported the “revolution” could send each other secret messages using the app. The “Mockingjay” symbol appeared in a public place in the real world, along with a message which could only be read via the app. The app was an absolute must-have for true fans, but perhaps not so much for those who were unfamiliar with the franchise.

Is there a future for AR?

With the smart application of GPS and AR, the Pokémon-World has been brought back to life in a new way and thanks to “Pokémon Go”, there is renewed interest in this technology.

It’s impossible to deny the success of Pokémon Go, with the download figures being completely off the scale in the USA, New Zealand and Australia. As market research company SimilarWeb claims, the app has already outdone Tinder and will overtake Twitter soon.

Will there be more AR apps in the film & entertainment industry?

“The Mockingjay” app was designed for fans of the series, and required users to be familiar with the world of the film, which is not the case for “Pokémon Go”. With the latter, gamers can start playing immediately – regardless of whether they are hardcore Pokémon fans or not.

The unbelievable success of the app is sure to nudge other marketers into experimenting with the tech, opening up new possibilities that could be relevant for film and other entertainment brands.

Written by Nadine Vaksic-Pillitteri
July 15, 2016