Smart city and Pokémon Go: some interesting urban planning issues
Available on iOS and Android in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States since the 6th July, Pokémon Go was brought to life by Niantic, a San Francisco-based former subsidiary of Google. In just 19 days this virtual tracker game was downloaded on multiple device platforms nearly 75 million times across the world. Mainly reliant on the principle of connected objects, this augmented reality app encourages users to stroll around real life locations, capturing a range of fantastical creatures on their smartphone cameras. Once the last creature has been captured, users band them together and make them fight in combat arenas (PokéGyms) or pre-set locations (Pokéspots). Whether a genius idea or just a fad, this social phenomenon is an unprecedented success, signaling a huge future potential for the smart city.
Getting people out and about with Pokémon Go
Firstly, this on-the-go game gets players out into public spaces. Indeed by increasing Pokéspots, Pokémon Go actively encourages users to explore their own neighborhoods. It is notable that many predetermined locations where monsters can be captured are associated with monuments, churches, statues and public places. And with the geolocation function, it's possible to capture rarer creatures by visiting new and different spots. Designers have raised the profile of this Nintendo franchise by cleverly linking characters to natural environments. Pokémon territory can be found near parks and forests.
The potential of Pokémon Go as a marketing tool
With its capability of increasing foot traffic to locations, this app is fast becoming a powerful marketing tool. In fact, some companies are already taking advantage of the Pokémon Go phenomenon. Many are exploiting the game's lure facility, which brings wild Pokémon characters together in one place for 30 minutes, and taking the opportunity to raise their business profile. They steer customers towards their businesses thus raising their earning potential. Finally, because the application is able to influence people's movements and gather them together in one location, new features like intelligent alert systems could be integrated. These would be capable of safeguarding users' security and even have the potential to encourage a community spirit within neighborhoods.
The future of Pokémon Go
To sum up, the long-term potential of such an application for future smart cities should not be underestimated. It is already apparent that this social phenomenon will continue to throw surprises at us. Indeed, the application is not just content to reproduce environments through connected objects but with the imminent release of Pokémon Go Plus, a connected bracelet with a long battery life, users will be alerted if a Pokémon is nearby without having to take their smartphones out of their pocket.
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