Pokémon GO and Augmented Reality
Unless you’ve been away from planet Earth this summer, you won’t have missed the augmented reality game, Pokémon GO.
The free-to-play, location-based mobile game has been downloaded by more than 100 million people worldwide and is a global phenomenon. But just in case you have been sunning yourself on Mars here’s a brief synopsis.
Pokémon GO is a free download on iOS and Android. It uses the mobile device’s GPS capability to enable the player to track down Pokémon (virtual creatures) who, through augmented reality, are shown on the player’s device as if they were in the real world.
It’s probably the first location-based augmented reality game to break through into the mainstream. It’s been credited with encouraging physical activity and even with boosting those businesses who suddenly found themselves a key location within the Pokémon world.
Reading through the hundreds of articles published since the launch of Pokémon GO this July, it’s clear that players have enjoyed exploring areas of their neighbourhood (and further afield!) that they may have previously ignored or taken for granted. The placement of virtual creatures has encouraged them to explore more, open their eyes and has heightened their experience of a physical location.
It was the desire to heighten a visitor’s experience that inspired us to create the Digital Ranger series of apps alongside the National Trust for Scotland.
They’re a series of location-based augmented reality apps on iOS and Android that were developed to add an extra layer to a family’s walk around the grounds of some of the Trust’s ever popular properties – Crathes Castle, Castle Fraser, Inverewe, Glencoe & the Hermitage.
As a family explores the grounds their device alerts them when they arrive at a point of interest before explaining to them more about their surroundings and the wildlife that can be frequently seen there. The app then encourages the user to track down a digital image of that species, using augmented reality. Once found, the player answers a multiple choice question to win a spotter’s badge (there are 10 to collect at each site).
Just like Pokémon GO, our Digital Ranger apps encourage players to explore their surroundings and take a closer look at places they may have previously walked past without giving them a second glance.
We’ve also harnessed the power of augmented reality in our audio guide app for Ben Lomond (iOS & Android). Developed on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland, augmented reality allows us to draw the walker’s attention to some key spots on the vista as they follow the trail to the top of the mountain. The highlight of the trail, unsurprisingly, is looking out from the top of Ben Lomond and taking in the view, which on a clear day includes over 30 peaks of surrounding mountains. It’s here that the augmented reality functionality of the audio guide app comes into it’s own, allowing users to pin-point which peak is which through the digital tags shown on their device’s screen.
Our earliest experience of using augmented reality was working alongside Haunted Planet Studios at Falkland Palace in 2010 to deliver an immersive ghost hunt experience in the grounds of the palace. It was enjoyed by visitors, young and old and delivered an incredible visitor experience, as families explored the grounds of the palace trying to track down the ghost of Queen Mary. Check out the video below!
As Pokémon GO has shown, and through our own experience in developing audio guide apps, augmented reality when implemented correctly delivers an incredible user experience. It encourages people to interact more with their surroundings and to take a look at places they may have previously missed, or simply ignored. Most importantly perhaps, It can also be a lot of fun and when you’re talking about creating compelling visitor experiences, more fun can only be a good thing.