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Pokemon Go's Success Promises Bright Future For AR Tech

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POKEMON GO BUSINESS
Sam Mircovich / Reuters
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Co-Authored By 5th Wall's Averie Hah and Alan Shekhtman

Pokemon Go is everywhere, all over the world, in the palms of all our hands. By now, everyone probably has googled "what is Pokemon Go," but to give a short answer, it is an augmented reality game created by Niantic and Nintendo in which the player -- you -- explore the real world in order to find mysterious digital creatures known as Pokemon, catch them and battle against other "trainers." As the slogan goes, you "Gotta catch 'em all!"

It has been about 10 days since its release in the United States, and already the game is making news all over the globe. Google searches for Pokemon Go has outstripped that of "porn," and Nintendo's stocks rose about 55 per cent this week. It has been installed on twice as many phones as Tinder, and the number of daily users is on the verge of surpassing Twitter. The game is estimated to be making $1.6 million daily, on U.S. iPhones alone.

So, what does this mean? Countries all over the world are seeing cultural, technological and financial spillover effects caused by this pure phenomenon, and Canada is one not to miss. What does Pokemon GO's success mean for augmented reality, and what does it mean for businesses?

People Are Welcoming Towards New Technology

Pokemon Go's wide popularity is a great indicator of how open people are to trying technology that is foreign to them. Players, especially millennials, are downloading the game and getting excited about this technology that allows them to catch Pokemon using their phone camera and nothing more -- the technology of augmented reality. AR has been around us for quite some time, but the general awareness of the name "augmented reality" has been quite low. Naturally, the general impression of foreign technology was that it was inaccessible, or that people wouldn't want to try out a new, complicated technology.

Now, because of Pokemon Go, people are realizing that in fact, AR simply starts with their phone cameras, defying previous impressions and allowing for maximum accessibility. It has proven that the adoption of AR can start right from the palm of your hands, from the billions of mobile devices we already have.

Ubisoft - Augmented Reality from Merchlar on Vimeo.

(See how Ubisoft and Merchlar created an augmented reality experience in gaming)

Pokemon Go Is The Prelude To AR's Success

The fact that Pokemon Go hasn't been officially released in Canada yet but still has millions of Canadian players is just a preview of AR's rate of adoption in Canada. It shows how natural the integration of digital and "real" is going to be for the general public.

It is true that many players of Pokemon Go are dormant Nintendo and Pokemon fans who are happy to see these companies recreate their '90s childhood. But another thing players are excited about is the technology itself. The fact that you can see these "hidden" Pokemon who exist in the digital world through technology is new, mysterious and captivating. It almost has an enchantment factor, making you feel like you're going on an adventure to discover these mythical creatures that only you can see with a special tool, in this case, your mobile phone.

The intricate relationship between real and digital is what's driving the current popularity of Pokemon Go, and it's setting the ground for a "mixed reality" world that we are going to live in. Snapchat's facial recognition filters, makeup apps that let you try out the products virtually all integrate AR technology, but people have been unaware of it. With Pokemon Go, people are truly seeing how a decades-old game concept can be renewed through technology, and that AR has so much to offer. With the popularity of Pokemon Go, it just became that much clearer that the integration of digital and "real" is easy and exciting. The wide popularity of the game is just a beginning for AR, hinting to the mixed reality world we are going to live in.

Pokemon Go Shows How To Do Business With AR

First, we've seen local businesses, especially retailers, profiting from AR by luring Pokemon and the players to their location. Businesses are using Pokemon Go as a tool to generate interest and drive foot traffic.

It's great to see local business owners leveraging the popularity of Pokemon Go, but bigger players need to look at the bigger picture. Use not just Pokemon Go as a tool, but use the AR technology as a whole.

Those with an ambitious mind or those who have been meaning to adopt a new technology to level up their business can learn from how Pokemon Go led to the wide adoption of their technology. The key takeaway from Nintendo and Niantic should be that the easiest way to dive into the files of a new technology, like AR, is to start with what you and everyone else already owns -- your mobile device.

The fear is that people aren't willing to adopt new technology because of how new or foreign it is. But the foreignness of technology does not matter as much if it can be accessible to everyone. And this is true for both users who want to try out AR and those who are trying to adopt this technology. The key to wide adoption of a new technology is that people have to view it as accessible.

2016-07-15-1468593785-3945340-pokemongousagecomparison.png
(Source: SensorTower)

Another takeaway is that digital doesn't necessarily replace "real". They complement each other. Local businesses have seen marketing success using different properties of this digital game. Their success proves the importance of having a digital presence as it generates real foot traffic and revenue. People can enjoy the same physical space in two layers (digital and real) and this creates an experience for them.

For future launches, businesses need to understand this complementary relationship. They should try to enhance users' digital experience with what they can offer in the real world, and vice versa. This will help businesses grow both their online and offline presence, further engage with customers, and offer a whole, end-to-end experience. In fact, the average U.S. iPhone user spends 33 minutes a day on Pokemon Go , which is 11 minutes more than Facebook, and 15 minutes more than Snapchat. Imagine 33 minutes a day for millions and millions of users. Pokemon Go's engagement rate is something that all marketers would drool over, and it should teach us a lesson about how the perfect triangle of mobile, digital, and real will help us achieve that dream engagement rate.

AR just got "mainstreamed" by Pokemon, and soon, users are going to demand natural, seamless integration of digital and real anywhere they go.

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