In the past couple of weeks, the internet (and, indeed, the world) has exploded about the new augmented reality game, Pokemon Go. There are two major opinions – the people who love the game and those who think it’s stupid. To me, though, the important thing to look at is what this game means for the future.
Last year, I shared the story of the Zombies, Run! app and how it got Colleen and myself out exercising regularly when otherwise we could hardly dream of it. Pokemon Go has done the same thing across the whole world – people who would normally be inside all summer playing video games are now outside, exercising, exploring and socializing. People with mental health issues, such as depression and PTSD, are reporting improvements.
So, what do those two games have in common? They make exercise fun, rather than a chore.
Now, the term “Augmented Reality” is something I’ve become quite familiar with over the past year. Why? Because one day, while out running from zombies, I said to Colleen, “Wouldn’t it be cool if someone developed a technology that would let us actually see the zombies that are chasing us in the story?” I then went on to hypothesize that you could take a virtual reality headset, mount cameras to feed in the scenery and then add in the digital characters.
I figured I couldn’t be the only one to come up with this idea, so I did some research. What I found was astonishing – in particular, a company called Magic Leap that is working on a piece of technology far beyond what I had been imagining. My brain was flooded with ideas for the possible uses of this technology – yes, games were at the forefront, but there are so many practical purposes as well. It functions as an immersive mobile computer, an art platform, a communications device. With it, people have the potential to holo-comute to work.
To me, though, the best application of augmented reality is the ability to combine work and play. Imagine being able to go into work and have the work you do become part of a game. You could have high scores that you try to beat each days, achievements and awards for completing a certain amount of work at a certain speed. Goals and praise that can break up an otherwise dull and tedious work shift. From an employer’s standpoint, it could be used to improve worker output and even work quality through turning work into a game.
Pokemon Go is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re entering a future where science fiction is becoming a reality, and it has great potential for improving life in innumerable ways. All it takes are some deceptive photons and a little imagination to make the world a better place.
Click here to find the charity anthology containing a couple of my short stories.