You might have heard of the huge success of the new mobile phone game, Pokémon Go, where players wander around in the real world searching for Pokémon creatures that appear on their phone as if they were in the real world. It was launched only two weeks ago, and – within 24 hours – rocketed to the top of Apple’s and Google’s app stores. Last week, it became the most active mobile game ever in the USA (beating Candy Crush).
I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so last weekend, I asked my technology mentor (my partner Nikki’s fifteen-year-old son, Josh) to show me. What I saw convinces me that Pokémon Go will indirectly influence us all in business – but not for the reason you might think.
Yes, it’s been a huge marketing success for its developers Niantic and Nintendo – and any business owner would be envious of its success. But its real impact will be from a whole bunch of people experiencing augmented reality.
When you find a Pokémon character in the game, it appears on your phone as a cartoon-like character projected onto the real world – like this:
In other words, it blends the virtual world with the physical world. That’s augmented reality, and it’s going to be BIG!
This is not the same as virtual reality.
With virtual reality (VR), you enter an imaginary world and move around in it.
With augmented reality (AR), you bring parts of an imaginary world into the real world.
Here’s a simple picture showing the difference:
Both VR and AR are growing fast, but let’s just look at AR (augmented reality) here …
How will augmented reality affect your business?
AR is not just for cute, cartoon-based mobile apps. It will affect every business – including yours.
Think of it like this: Imagine anybody in your business (you, staff, suppliers, customers, and so on) having instant access to Google in front of their eyes. Instead of having to pull out their phone, they are wearing glasses or contact lenses that recognise the environment, do a Google search about it, and present information in front of their eyes.
For example, suppose you’re a real estate agent, and you’re showing a potential buyer around a property …
- Even before they arrive, as they drive through the suburb, they learn about the local area: what other properties are worth, crime rate, access to public transport and amenities, percentage of home owners, and so on.
- When they arrive at the property, they can instantly pull up information about it: how long it’s been on the market, changes to the asking price, a full history of past sales, and so on.
- Then you walk up to them, and they can get information about you: how many sales you have made recently, what areas you work in, and so on.
- When they walk inside, they instantly get information about each room: exact dimensions, temperature and lighting, and so on.
- They can even project their furniture into the room to explore how it would appear when they move in.
As another example, suppose you’re a professional speaker (as I am) or trainer, and you’re making a presentation …
- When you say or show something authoritative (for example, a statistic or quotation), the audience instantly assesses it: how accurate it is, how current it is, what other people think about it, and so on.
- When your workshop attendees are doing something, they see instructions guiding them step by step.
- When they are using their skills in their workplace, they see the instructions again.
- When they look back at their notes later, they can replay what you were saying at that point.
This is not science fiction!
Much of the information in these examples is already available via your phone. Right now, in 2016, we don’t yet have the magic contact lenses. So we have to type, touch or talk to Siri to feed in the questions, and then look at the phone to see the answers.
That’s inconvenient, but it’s not a deal breaker. And it won’t be long before we do have the magic contact lenses.
So be prepared!