3 min read
So by now you probably know what Pokemon GO is. If not, then you probably don't care. For the sake of the one or two that might not know, Pokemon GO is an augmented reality game. Augmented Reality is a concept that has been around for a while (believe it or not, it's history goes back to at least 1901), but has been gaining momentum in recent years as due on mobile devices. The basic idea is exactly what it sounds like: adding a layer of something to reality around us. Video gamers in the 80s probably remember a video game called M.A.C.H. 3 - a game that put a computer graphic jet fighter on top of real flight footage. Now take this into current times where you can create that real footage in real time with your mobile phone, while also adding computer graphics in real time. This is the current feild of augmented reality, while projects like Microsoft Hololens are taking it in other directions. Augmented reality apps do everything from layering map directions on the road in front of you to letting you fight off alien invasions from your back yard. In other words, Pokemon GO is not really anything new. Pokemon GO just found a way to connect existing ideas with an addictive popular idea that got a massive number of people suddenly interested in it. In many ways, Pokemon GO is the xMOOC of the augmented reality world. And just like xMOOCs, we are already hearing about how Pokemon GO will revolutionize education (of course it won't) or how we need Pokemon GO to get learners active, engaged, communal, etc (even though we already have many things that do that in education already). See also my blog post "Pokemon Go and the Gimmickification of Education." Additionally, the sudden mass popularity of Pokemon Go has created problems with data, personal injuries, and even criminal attacks. No one really takes the time to think through potential misuse of technology anymore... except for, of course, those that want to misuse it. If you love Pokemon GO (it is a pretty cool game designed to get people active after all), don't let that distract you from other interesting uses of augmented reality that have been around for a while. If you hate Pokemon GO, don't let that turn you off to other, better uses of augmented reality.