With the release of Pokemon GO, AR (augmented reality) has finally gone mainstream. If you’re not familiar with the app, Pokemon GO is a mobile game that lets users catch their favourite Pokemon characters in the real world using a combination of location, time and image recognition technology (AKA augmented reality).
With an estimated 7.5 million downloads, the free app is topping all App Store and Google Play charts in less than a week since launch (and it’s currently only available in the US, Australia and New Zealand). Rumour has it that active users will also soon overtake Twitter so traction is impressive to say the least.
Put simply, Pokemon GO has brought the idea of augmented reality to the masses and, whether or not they actually understand what augmented reality is, millions of people are experiencing it and, from online reviews, absolutely loving it.
Pokemon GO also gets people exploring the world around them and, as well as the gamification of exercise, has already been credited with helping people with depression by giving them motivation to get up and head out into the world. Behavioural change and all in less than a week!
Whilst it’s not the first augmented reality game to be released it’s certainly the first to hit such mainstream heights and will undoubtedly be the catalyst for a raft of copy-cat AR experiences. This, in turn, will unlock the door of opportunity for brands and marketers who are looking for new ways to connect with their increasingly mobile audiences.
For those of us lucky enough to have been working with augmented reality technology for a number of years, we’ve long appreciated the huge and wide reaching potential of AR to help bridge the physical and digital worlds.
Yes, we’ve created some amazing augmented reality game experiences but we have also used AR to help educate (in schools and universities), inform (at events and in-store) and incentivise (on products and publications).
With mass audiences now being educated on how to use augmented reality through the power of Pokemon, we firmly believe that marketers will recognise that their customers will also expect more from their brands and products in a ‘new reality’ where our digital and physical worlds merge.
Pokemon GO just might be the killer augmented reality game we’ve been waiting for. It is proof, if proof were needed, that our digital lives are overlapping with our real lives in ways which raise opportunities to brands in an increasingly connected world.
Those that embrace AR as part of their brand strategy will shape the future marketing landscape. Those that don’t may well miss out on an exciting new post-Pokemon GO world of branded AR moments.