Pokémon Go quickly evolved from a simple, location-based Augmented Reality (AR) game into to a cultural phenomenon within just several weeks of its release in July 2016. With 500 million downloads in two months and offering a unique blend of the real and virtual world, Pokémon Go hit the headlines this Summer.
Upon the game’s release, critics were not all favorable due to several technical issues - some of which still exist. As we step into Fall, the number of downloads has dwindled causing its displacement from the number one download position according to Sensor Tower. So with the buzz dying down, we wondered what Niantic, Inc., the developer and publisher of Pokémon Go, is doing to prepare the game for its next act.
We explore some of the features we might see in forthcoming updates of the game based on underlying Pokémon Go technologies. Niantic has confirmed some of these predictions could come true within the near future (“within one year”) or far-future (“years to come”). The technologies are as follows: 1) location awareness using GPS technologies on Android or iOS devices, and 2) AR-rendering of Pokémon’s (aka virtual objects).
Location awareness using GPS technologies
When the game was first released, a lot of gamers were playing while driving a car, riding on a bus, etc., creating major safety issues. Niantic addressed this ‘location awareness’ problem by developing a more sophisticated implementation of the embedded GPS technology. Depending on the rate of change of the user device GPS coordinates, the algorithm now determines whether a gamer is walking or not, which in turn decides whether certain game features can be triggered (distance walked towards egg incubators, candy earning from walking with buddy Pokémon’s, etc.). It also triggers a warning message and seeks a confirmation if a gamer is a passenger in a vehicle, say a car or bus. Further, by increasing the delay in pinging the server of the gamer’s GPS coordinate information, Niantic is doing its best to level the playing field for those who would spoof the system into believing the gamer is located somewhere it is not.
AR rendering of Pokémon
The implementation of AR in this game has been applauded by the gaming community. But for the everyday user, it can cause problems. Many goal oriented gamers have resorted to just turning off the AR feature to avoid glitches like significant battery drain and Pokémons moving out of view at the time of capture. Niantic CEO John Hanke has discussed improvements in the AR settings to address these Pokémon Go-specific glitches, but AR also appears to be the focus of Niantic’s future projects generally.
Potential technologies for improvement
Better Battery Technology: If Niantic has gathered the data about when the gamer decides to switch modes from AR, the game could also serve as a beta test for both user acceptance of AR gaming in mobile devices and battery performance. We could see a whitespace for battery makers (and other hardware component manufacturers) to develop better battery technologies that address current AR features. Secondary storage sales have increased by as much as 50% after Pokémon Go’s popularity further highlighting the need for better battery technology.
Integrated Wearable Technology: One of the technologies that might enable Niantic to engage better with a fitness-aware crowd is to provide in-app activity tracking for training shoes. There are many current fitness tracking wearables available in the market produced by companies like Fitbit, Garmin, Samsung and Apple to name a few. With the release of Pokémon Go Plus, the question is: are people willing to wear two band-like devices on a daily basis? If Pokémon Go Plus can offer the activity tracking that other wearable devices provide, Niantic might be able to market the product more effectively and engage with fitness-aware gamers.
CPA Global digs deep for the competitive intelligence you need
Written with the help of CPA Global’s Rapid Landscape Services division, the findings in this blog surrounding Augmented Reality merely scratch the surface of the deep information that can be gleaned using our Rapid Landscape Services Report.
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