This Demo Shows What ‘Pokemon GO’ Could Be Like on the Microsoft Hololens

by David Jagneaux • July 14th, 2016

Pokemon GO is on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Addicting and revolutionary are often words that are used to describe it. But unfortunately, you won’t often hear people get particularly excited for its use of augmented reality technology for anything other than taking funny pictures. While the game itself is awfully simplistic and the lack of true-AR from our currently limited smartphone cameras leaves a lot to be desired, it’s still the perfect storm of accessibility, social interaction, and nostalgia that many people didn’t realize they wanted.

It’s changing the way businesses operate, causing Nintendo’s stocks to soar, and fundamentally altering the landscape of human existence (that might be a slight exaggeration.)

But what if I told you a group of upstart HoloLens developers had gotten a prototype of a Pokemon GO concept running on the Microsoft HoloLens? And what if I told you it was not only playable, with full AR-to-real-world integration in your view instead of just on a phone, but they also had footage of it as well? Well, that’s exactly what I’m telling you, just watch the video above.

pokemon go hololens pikachu

Obviously this is very early concept footage that isn’t representative of any sort of actual game in development and shouldn’t be taken to mean that Pokemon GO is coming to HoloLens any time soon – even if Microsoft thinks that’s a great idea – but it’s pretty freakin’ cool, right? Magic Leap even claims to be able to perfectly composite Pokemon into the real world for games just like this – which is similar to things I’ve seen done with the HoloLens as well with more development time.

The way the Pokemon actually move around the environment at different distances is incredibly interesting and showcases a far more advanced utilization of AR technology. Ideally, something like this would be entirely possible on the forthcoming Lenovo Phab 2 Pro.

“We were actually amazed how easy it is to launch an app for this device and create and optimize the mechanics and interaction,” says David Robustelli, Head of Digital at CapitolaVR, the company behind this demo, via email correspondence. “The build was created in Unity with the HoloLens SDK.”

They essentially created the demo in a single day of just fiddling around with the device after receiving it from Microsoft.

“For now the Pokemon are randomly generated within a mapped environment,” elaborates Robustelli. “We are now focusing on how to use different gestures for specific interactions. For example, like opening your inventory or activating your map and zooming in and tilting your map. The thing is there is a huge amount of possibilities that are unexplored and which could work for games like these. A more challenging thing is how to access the Google Maps API and enabling it within a running app. But I’m sure that in the upcoming years when more and more people are developing for this hardware also more things will be standard to use in tools and apps.”

They don’t have any real plans to work with Niantic to turn this into an actual iteration of the game – several of the UI elements would be particularly difficult to adapt for a non-mobile interface, but it’s still fun to think about.

Could this be what the next generation of Pokemon GO looks like? Will Pokemon GO run on more advanced AR devices like the HoloLens in the future?

UPDATE: Since this story ran, another team of HoloLens developers have put together a short prototype as well, showing off a few extra features:

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