12th July 2016

How Pokémon Go is Introducing Augmented Reality to New Audiences

Have you spotted a Charmander, or maybe a Pikachu lying around recently? No? You probably haven’t downloaded Pokémon Go – the latest viral app that has soared to the top of download charts across the world.

Pokémon Go is a free smartphone game that, instead of causing people to lock themselves away in order to play, has sent hundreds of thousands of people outdoors and into their local areas to search for Pokémon characters. It uses augmented reality to overlay the characters onto a person’s view of the real world, using a smartphone’s location and camera. Users simply hold up their phone and, if a Pokémon is there, it will appear in front of them ready to be caught (or not, if you’re no good at the game).

1    2

Pokémon is part owned by Nintendo, but the app is actually the work of software development start-up company, Niantic Inc. In a matter of days, the app has boosted Nintendo’s market value by a whopping $9 billion, and counting, as well as making a strong case that augmented reality has a future.

To date, much of the focus around augmented reality has been for business use. For example, architects and specifiers could use the technology to virtually view projects and products while they were still a work in progress. However, with Pokémon Go, augmented reality is making waves in a much more consumer-focused market.

Not only has the game given consumers the opportunity to try augmented reality for themselves – and in a cheaper way than virtual reality, with its expensive headsets, would – it can open a number of doors for brands. Could this be a new way for companies to showcase their products and services to audiences, for example? With the game and technology having proved its popularity in the mere six days it has been available, we’ll just have to watch this space.

What’s more, Pokémon Go is already installed on more Android phones than Tinder, and users are spending more time engaged with the game than they are with apps such as Snapchat and Whatsapp. Could the way consumers use social media also be changing as a result of the latest craze?

Pokémon Go is only (officially) available in the United States, Australia and New Zealand at the moment. However, I’m sure you’ll have spotted a number of people secretly searching for their next Pokémon! I know I have…

By Rebecca Parker, B2B Account Executive