Finding Pokémon – Augmented Reality Finally Has its Moment in Pop-Culture History
This post was written by Yash Egami, VP, Marketing and Content, The One Club. The One Club is a 2016 MAX partner. We’d like to thank all of our 2016 MAX partners who help make the conference possible.
As the leaves begin to turn and the days grow shorter, the summer of 2016 will best be remembered for trending topics such as Ryan Lochte’s bad behavior at the Rio Olympics, the Donald and Hillary political circus, Netflix’s Stranger Things and, perhaps most prominently, the millions of people flicking Poké Balls at invisible animals while dodging pedestrians in their cities playing Pokémon GO.
The release of the mobile app that blended the real and virtual worlds was a watershed moment for augmented reality. While the technology has been around for several years now, there has never been a singular app or experience using augmented reality that has resonated with the mainstream as much as Pokémon GO.
To be sure, this past year has seen its share of dazzling digital experiences that fused the real and virtual worlds together. At the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, Nike teamed up with digital shop AKQA and production company LOS YORK to create “The Last Shot,” an immersive installation where people could re-enact some of Michael Jordan’s most famous moments in a virtual arena. Featuring 10 million LEDs and a physically responsive digital half-court, fans got to shoot an actual basketball, cheered on by virtual fans using augmented reality. The experience was a hit that won many awards including Best of Discipline in Responsive Environments at the 2016 One Show.
Another top winner on the awards circuit was “Make Up Genius” from the cosmetics company L’Oreal and McCann Paris. In it users can try on makeup with their phones using augmented reality without ever having to step into a physical store. If they see something they like, the app lets them seamlessly purchase the products through their online store.
While it wasn’t as ubiquitous as Pokémon GO, the app still recorded nearly 15 million downloads in 2015.
These are just some of the success stories in the booming field of augmented reality. The challenge for creatives who are working with the technology is to come up with ideas that not only capture the imagination, but have a clear purpose. Earlier experimental apps that featured virtual cars on desktops or virtual pets only registered as a blip with the mainstream because while they showcased the technology, they didn’t offer a compelling reason to keep going back or explore much deeper.
“The Last Shot” served as a gateway to not only find out more about Michael Jordan for those who weren’t even born in the 1980s, but it also offered a chance to experience Nike’s Jordan brand shoes as Michael Jordan would have experienced them himself. “Make Up Genius” created an opportunity for L’Oreal to reach consumers who had grown tired of having to go to crowded make-up counters at department stores to learn more about their products.
Even Pokémon GO was a boon for Nintendo and the game developer Niantic because not only did it feature in-app purchases, but it also offered local businesses an incentive to join in on the fun by setting up gyms and Poké Stops to draw in potential customers.
All of these aforementioned games and projects owe their success to good design, a user experience that seamlessly blends the virtual and real worlds and a compelling business model that stays true to the brand.
And when the virtual world leads to real, tangible benefits, everybody wins.
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