Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pokemon Go & Augmented reality

Pokemon Go finally arrived in HK and I have been playing it for the past 24 hours. It is cute, it is addictive and I think it is quite a bit of fun. It can also get a little bit complicated when battles, badges, eggs and incubators all come into play. Baby steps for now. (See here for the Beginners guide). My children were fans of the original Pokemon craze when it first came out - Pikachu was a firm favourite, they have take up the armour of a virtual Pokemon trainer in their 20's and relished the game with gusto.

The whole Pokemon Go concept and launch was well thought out and managed with launch dates coinciding with the beginning of national school holidays especially the long summer holidays in the Northern Hemisphere. Each country was released in stages to get the excitement built up - with Australia, USA & The UK first. I was chanting at the bit to see what all the fuss was about and to understand the conversations on ALA Think Tank FB group. There are also the haters with many memes being released about the Pokemon player.....  

There have been some teething problems with the game with Pokestops and Pokegyms being placed near monuments and other areas that really should not have had people traipsing all over them - places like memorials and cemeteries and other reverent, sombre paces. Many libraries are seizing the opportunity to be Pokestops, so that people will enter, or at least come close to entering and maybe they will stay a while.

Many school librarians and teachers have downloaded the app and are giving it a go so they can talk about it with there students when they return from holidays, school principals have been asked to comment in the general media on the game and what repercussions it may have on education. Here are two excellent articles on Pokemon Go in the school environment:
Pokemon Go : A distraction of an opportunity?  by Dr Alec J O’Connell, Headmaster Scotch College Swanbourne, Western Australia)
Pokemon @ School  by Skye Moroney

I am intrigued by the VR technology. I recently was introduced to it by a friend who developed a head set similar to but more permanent to the Google Cardboard. (Merge VR Goggles)  Wearing these goggles and watching a VR app go through its motions was incredible and literally mind blowing. But, this headset took me out of my normal environment and isolated me from the world. Pokemon Go reverses this and puts us back into the environment and allows us to interact with it in a whole new way, and placed the technology squarely into the mainstream. Everyone is taking notice, whether they love it or hate it.

There are currently a few Augmented reality apps on the market - Aurasma, Fresh Air,  Near Pod, Google expeditions, Star Walk  and Flightradar24 (two of my favourites) that can and are being used in the education field. Have a look at this new app that could be used to train doctors.  Many cities and museums are taking the augmented reality technology to help tourists explore their cities at a whole new level. Singapore has Waalkz and few European countries have Beetletrip apps. Of course, advertising has also got on board - iButterfly. What will be the real game changer is when crowdsourcing starts becoming mainstream and we are not just consumers of VR - but creators in a more meaningful way.

Although Pokemon Go may be a game, the technology is one of constant development and needs to be taken seriously - where can it go from here? Have a look at this article from Mashable on how Augmented reality will improve your life.  Further reading from VB - Pokemon Go is nice, but this is what real augmented reality will look like.

Get on board it is here to stay and is the 'next big thing'. 

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