There are over 2 billion smartphones that support AR applications and games. Despite this, no game has achieved more than a few million users, until Pokémon GO.
Nokia launched one of the first mobile AR games on the N95 in 2007, which was mostly a PR stunt as people tried it once and then no more. We developed at least 20 AR apps and games over the past 5 years including for Audi, the US National Guard, Anheuser-Busch InBev, AXE and the Yellow Pages. Although they were well received by users and media, none of them turned into a major hit.
What Makes Pokémon GO Different?
There are a couple of key factors that differentiates Pokémon GO from other AR games:
- Pokémon is a huge brand with a big fan base that helped with initial traction
- Niantic (the developer used by Nintendo) has 3 years’ experience of developing and launching similar games including Ingress
- Processing power and display size for the majority of smartphones have reached a point where the user experience is acceptable
- Social games have experienced a pick up in the past year and Pokémon is a very social and public game
Does This Mean Augmented Reality Will Now Take Off?
Hopefully, yes. Pokémon will help adoption of other AR applications and games as long as the AR component adds value to the user experience. And this is key. Most previous games and apps utilizing AR did it because it was possible and not because there was a clear benefit in terms of a better experience or entertainment value.
Success going forward will rely on brands solving problems and delivering more fun with AR experiences. Only then will AR reach mass market adoption beyond a one-hit wonder.
What Are the Potential Applications?
Almost every industry can benefit from augmented experiences. Examples include:
- Architecture and Design - e.g. see furniture and other appliances virtually placed in your home
- Art – museums, galleries and city landscape
- Commerce – overlay objects such as clothing
- Construction – guidance on construction sites
- Education – information about the world around us
- Healthcare – telemedicine and collaboration
- Manufacturing – training, instructions and guidance
- Sports – support for driving, drone piloting, golf
- Tourism – experience what a city looked like 500 years ago
- …and of course Gaming
We’ve already seen a surge in demand for augmented reality experience and I can assure you that our focus will be on satisfying human needs rather than technology for our next project.
Magnus Jern, President DMI International