3 Industries That Will Be Disrupted By Pokémon Go and AR

I never thought I’d ever be talking about Pokémon…

But it’s just too hard for me to ignore. The hoards of grown men bumping into me screaming, “gotta catch ‘em all”, or the massive crowds stampeding after spotting rare Pokémon are all signs that this craze isn’t going away.

Pokémon Go is a location-based augmented reality (AR) mobile game developed by Niantic and published by The Pokémon Company. It was released in July 2016 for iOS and Android devices. By using your phones GPS, users are able to catch, train and fight creatures that are near by. Since launching last week, Nintendo’s shares have jumped 86 percent adding $17 billion to market cap. The game is free, but has already made $14 million through in-app purchases with expectations to launch in 200 markets in the near future.

Although there have been some pressing concerns over safety and security, it hasn’t limited the wide ranging uses for AR that have been validated by Pokémon Go’s rapid success. AR is about to enable users across three industries to interact in real-time with environmental elements like never before.

1. Fitness

Pokémon GO now tops Twitter in daily active users (DAU) and more time in-app than Facebook. Pokémon Go has quickly become one of the most viral mobile applications of all time. The average iPhone user spends 33 minutes in Pokémon GO. Meanwhile, users are in movement the whole time! Following the metric system, users must walk two km to hatch a common egg and five km in order to hatch a rare egg. Respectively, that’s the equivalent of 1.2 miles and 3.1 miles. Not sure what other mobile game requires the user to actually burn calories in order to accomplish goals.

Fitness may be the biggest opportunity to explore. The game even has terms analogous to sports such as trainers and gyms. In terms of companies that have the greatest advantage, Under Armour (UA) is at the top of the list. UA has always considered themselves to be at the forefront of innovation especially digital and mobile. With the 2013 acqusition of Map My Fitness, fitness technology company powering one of the world’s largest digital fitness communities, UA is positioned to overlay AR on millions of user-generated maps. UA would be able to integrate their nutritional data, calorie calculators and 160+ million of the best running, cycling and walking routes around the world.

Fitness tracking and wearable technology companies such as Jawbone are already seeing a positive impact. Jawbone users logged in 62.5 percent more steps than usual a few days after the launch of the game.

2. Tourism

As Allie Gemmill states, “Pokémon GO’s most attractive feature is that it gets players off of their couches and out into the real world.” One of the most engaging features in the game is the Pokéstop. Pokéstops are landmarks in public places like art installations, museums and parks. Users can’t capture new creatures by just sitting at home. Users are actually encouraged to visit these public places in hopes of catching new Pokémon. This has led to a surprising influx of new patrons to such destinations as the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC. The National Mall recently announced plans for ranger-led Pokémon hunts to learn about the monuments and memorials while you catch more Pokémon. Their Facebook Page reads:

As you race around the park trying to collect as many Pokemon as possible, please remember to be respectful of your fellow visitors as well as the memorials. Yes, it might be tempting to go after that Snorlax near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or the Venusaur hanging out in the chamber of the Jefferson Memorial, but remember that there are places of solemn reflection here at the National Mall where playing Pokemon just isn’t appropriate. But that Pokemon Gym over in Constitution Gardens? Go get ‘em!

Not a bad way for gamers to get some culture. I wouldn’t be surprised if popular scavenger hunts like SF Hunt start incorporating AR into their events.

3. Retail

While users are paying up to $100 for in-app purchases like PokéCoins, they aren’t the only ones buying into the new craze. Retailers are very much interested in seeking the users’ foot traffic. Retailers have caught on and are using lure modules as a new form of proximity marketing. For as low as $10, Lure modules can attract Pokémon to your location for up to 30 minutes. A pizza shop in New York saw their sales increase 75 percent by luring users to their store. “We had people come down, sit down and get a couple beers and play the Pokémon game,” L’inizio’s Pizza manager, Benedetti, told The Post. This could be a competitive yet lucrative space for retailers, restaurants and bars to play in.

The future of shopping is here and there are already successful uses of it before Pokémon GO entered the scene. One example is Pair. Pair shows you how hundreds of name brand furnishings will look in your home or office, in real-time using only your iPhone or iPad. AR is enabling users (customers and businesses) to not only interact, but blend media with the real world.

Pokémon GO isn’t the first to overlay data on the real world, but it’s certainly the first one to nail it.

Written by

Harry Alford is Co-Founder of humble ventures, a venture development firm accelerating tech startups in partnership with large organizations and investors.

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