08 – The Pokemon GO phenomenon: augmented or hidden reality?

Hey crew! I’m sorry for not writing sooner but I was quite busy with work first and then I finally went on holidays for a while. But finally, here we go: I’m back!

Today I’m not going to talk about any technical stuff (I have some news about that, but I will share it someother time ;)). I guess that a more relaxed topic is probably much better to catch your attention after holidays.

I hope you all are doing well and that you had the opportunity to spend some time at home with your family, in the mountains, or at the seaside as I did. You know, sometimes we deserve some relax!
We need to spend some time with friends, with our family, go for holidays, and also why not, we could play Pokemon GO…
Are you telling me that you haven’t ever heard about Pokemons (short for pocket monsters) and Pokemon GO?
Are you kidding me, or what?
It is the phenomenon of the moment! It is basically a free augmented reality game for smartphones (it is available for both iOS and Android operating systems) inspired bythe famous Japanese anime of the same name.

When I was a child I used to watch the cartoon (and probably some of you did the same as well). I used to know the name and the characteristics of all of them. It was quite fun. Instead, for my mum (and probably for the majority of you), Pokemon is just the cartoon of the “yellow rat” (Pikachu).

otakukart.com

Pokemons are basically imaginary creatures. The aim of the main character (Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town) and all other Pokemon trainers is to “catch’em all”! Catch all Pokemons which are spread over the world. “Gotta catch’em all!” is the slogan of Pokemon trainers. It is like if you were a butterfly collector and you wanted to wide your collection as much as possible: you go for catching butterflies. I think this is the idea behind Pokemon.
Frankly last July I also started to play Pokemon GO but, you know? I already stopped.
“Augmented reality” is how they call it. Is it? I’d like to call it “hidden reality” instead.
Augmented Reality (AR) is a live view of computer-generated sensory inputs. They can be sounds, graphics or any other kind of supplementary information added by computers to real-world environment.

My question is: are Pokemons part of this definition of AR? Are Pokemons augmented reality information? And if not: is the definition for AR definitely right?
I think something went wrong.
AR has been proven to be very useful on a day to day basis and in professional life as well, especially when tied with location based technologies.
Nowadays, several smartphones apps are able to tell customers where their favorite restaurant, the nearest bus stop, or the nearest (and most convenient) supermarket in the area, etc., are. Based on Big Data analysis and our current geographical position, we receive information from GPS about what the best route to go from/to work or to/from home is (also traffic is considered in the choice). More sophisticated use of AR are available in sports (at professional level), in surgery, in weapons industry, etc.
I guess the aim of AR is to give customers more information and awareness about the surroundings.
That’s instead exactly the opposite of what Pokemon GO does. I mean: I guess the aim of any videogame is to distract people from reality. And that’s what Pokemon GO does. Is it worth it?
In Pokemon GO, virtual images are added to the real world, however they distract customers from what is happening around them.

heraldasun.com.au

www.tmz.com

Recently, Niantic (the Pokemon GO software developer company) added some warnings in the game: “Do not trespass while playing Pokémon Go”, “Do not play Pokémon Go while driving”, and “Do not enter dangerous areas while playing Pokémon Go”. Those concerns are fully justified, given the number of people who reported about injuries incurred while playing the game or complained about Pokemon trainers trespassing in front of homes and businesses. Recently, Police complained about the increase in accidents caused by drivers playing Pokemon GO. And what about drivers complaining about pedestrian crossing or standing along the street for catching Pokemons?
Does Pokemon GO gives you more information about the surroundings or just hide what we really need to know about it? Should we pay attention at the nearest Pikachu or to the nearest car while we cross the street?
More simply, is it worth to miss a beautiful landscape, to miss a good talk with friends or, to miss a good time in the mountains at the riverside “because there is no internet connection there and I would not be able to play Pokemon”?
Are you serious guys?

Personally, my opinion is that: the more “smart” smartphones become, the more people lose their ability to think. I’m not sure that we can really call it “scientific progress”, but apparently that’s the direction.
It seems like an experiment. “Is it possible to make people completely unaware of what happens around them?” Well, apparently it is. And there is no hypnosis technique behind it. It is just human will of escaping the real world. That’s why we play videogames, of course. But that’s scary. That’s also why we go for holidays. That’s also why we read books. That’s also why we go to cinemas. That’s also why we dream. But that’s also why I stopped playing Pokemon GO: I decided that a coffee, a book, a movie and a good talk with friends is much better.
Be careful crew, I’m not telling you to stop playing Pokemon GO (if you are). Finally, it is just a game. And probably it is also better than previous version of the game where basically each child (or not) was playing looking at his/her own device sitting alone on the couch of the living room. Let’s have a look at the bright side of the question. At least this game allows you to go for a walk, meet new people, and you like it or not: Pokemon GO gives you also a new topic to talk about with friends.

So, what do you think about it? What do you think about Pokemon GO? Is it really augmented reality or not? What do you think about AR?

Crew, I’m done for today. I hope I gave you something to talk about for lunch with colleagues or this evening for dinner with friends. Remember, the topic is: “What is augmented and what is hidden reality?”
Take your time crew, discuss it with people you know, and let me know your opinion about it!
So, crew: that’s all for the moment!

Soon, I’ll be back.
Stay tuned,


FP13

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