Pokemon Go will be remembered as a pivotal moment in the augmented reality landscape, inspiring the Average Joe and Jane to toss pokeballs at little digital creatures projected into their surroundings by their cell phones. Pokemon Go is the result of a partnership between Niantic Labs and The Pokemon Company. Recently, Niantic’s CEO, John Hanke, made some pointed statements about AR and VR when he appeared on Kara Swisher’s Recode Decode podcast.
Niantic has a guiding philosophy that takes players off the couch and into the world and Hanke believes augmented reality is a compliment to that. He does have mixed feelings about how Pokemon Go works, forcing players to look through their screen while trying to lead them out to a park and other landmarks. When you get over 30 million people (down from 50 million) to hit the pavement, though, that’s an incredible feat.
Augmented reality and virtual reality are both immersive mediums that work in very different ways. AR takes the world we see and overlays different types of information, whether it be testing tattoos on your arm or showing AR markers for nearby businesses. VR aims to transport you to far or fictional places that you can traverse or even give you digital spaces for your creativity. Hanke believes one of the two has much more potential than the other.
“[Augmented reality] is the direction that I think is far more interesting and promising — for technology and, really, for humanity,” he says on the podcast. “In a VR situation, you’re isolating yourself from everyone around you and entering this completely virtual space. AR is designed to add, enhance the things you do as a human being: Being outside, socializing with other people, shopping, playing, having fun. AR can make all those things better.”
While he is correct that VR is a bit more isolating in a way, consider the fact that I could step into a virtual dungeon with sword in hand and be healed by a friend on the other side of the world. Or attend a VR comedy show. Or hang out and have a VR LAN party. There are ways around the isolation already being explored. Which technology truly has the higher ceiling, in your opinion? This was also the topic of a recent Community Download.
Featured Image: Berkeley-Haas