The other day there was a large group of young people standing around in front of Waterloo Town Square. I’m not certain, but I think they were playing Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go, is the augmented reality game that has taken the entire world by storm. In case you are not familiar with it, Pokemon is from the Japanese “pocket monsters,” a popular video game, trading card, and TV series. Pokemon roam about the land, and, as a trainer, your job is to locate them, capture them in PokeBalls, and then train them to grow stronger and eventually evolve.
Blurring the line between digital and real world
Although I decided at the onset that I would not get involved in the Pokemon Go phenomenon, there are three things I really like about the game.
1) Social interaction: Pokemon Go players, by virtue of standing in the same location and looking at their cellphones have the inclination to interact, “Hey, what team are you on?” is likely the first question. (I’ve been told that the blue team is the most popular in Waterloo).
Over the years, I’ve found that the internet tends to make us both more connected yet more isolated at the same time. Pokemon Go has more connectedness than isolationism.
2) Blurring the lines between reality and virtual life
On the internet, it use to be said that you could be anyone. You could be a dog. But that is not true anymore. Nowadays, newspaper sites are having you sign in using your real name before you can leave comments. The way we have opened our lives up in facebook and on twitter and other social media sites has also lead to a more open and trusting environment. Trust is good for society. I was listening to a podcast the other night that said that higher levels of trust in society equated with better societies.
Furthermore, we leave restaurant reviews on Yelp and holiday review on Expedia. We rate our experiences on Uber and Airbnb. But bringing a game to life in real time, this is new.
The internet has evolved from being an accessory to our lives to us becoming an accessory to it. Google real time maps is another example of this.
3). It is outside. People are out walking around. Sure their eyes are mostly glued to their cellphone screens, but they are out and about.
Not a fad but a new technology
Pokemon Go is not a fad. It is a new technology and the beginning of our new lives in augmented reality.
I like reality, but augmented reality is really much much better.
First of all, humans have been augmenting our realities since the beginning of time. Beer was invented 4000 years ago after all. Some people function very well in an augmented reality world. Some people can’t function as well in the real world.
But this isn’t a mind altering virtual reality. The is reality augmented. This is the beginning of the next phase of the information revolution.
Pokemon for the real estate business
With social media phenomenons, business are always trying to pile on and capitalize. I think this is a bad idea.
One of my clients said that I should put a Pokemon Go icon outside of a home I have for sale. Bring lots of people to an open house. “Why would I do that?”, I thought, “Those people are not looking to buy a house? They are out playing a game. I don’t need a bunch of random people coming to an open house. I need ready buyers.”
But, mark my words, real estate agents and other businesses will try mostly in vain to get new customers and make money from this. In the process, they will make themselves look bad by not respecting the new rules of the new world.
The opportunity with the Pokemon Go phenomenon is the augmented reality technology. Imagine a day in the not so distant future that you can walk through a home and have all the information about materials used, the chattels and fixtures, the issues and repairs, the age of the windows, furnace and roof and who the builder was. Imagine driving through a neighbourhood and looking at crime incidence reports and school rankings. Imagine how useful living in a augmented reality world will be.