If you’ve not yet heard of Pokémon Go, then you’re probably a Brock short of a Pikachu, because since the start of July 2016, it’s become one of the biggest mobile games in history.

According to the latest estimates, 30 million instances of the game have been downloaded in the U.S. alone. Moreover, Apple has confirmed that the game broke records in its first week, which means we can safely say that Pokémon Go has become something of a phenomenon in recent weeks.

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Pokémon GO” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  edowoo

Of course, the combination of mass media buzz and nostalgia for a fantasy world that children of the ’90s will recall has certainly helped increase downloads, but there’s more to it than that. Yes. The structure of the game (i.e. the more you play the better your score becomes) is integral to its appeal as well, but the use of augmented reality (AR) is really the reason it stands out.

By overlaying computer graphics onto real landscapes, Pokémon Go has blurred the lines between virtual and reality to create a completely unique style of mobile game. At this point, it is worth pointing out that Pokémon Go isn’t the first AR game. AR Tower Defence was available back in 2012, but it’s certainly become the most mainstream.

In fact, because virtual reality is very much the “in thing” at the moment, AR has also been sucked into the general population’s psyche in recent months and that is opening up some interesting possibilities. With tech developers confident that AR can strike a chord with the masses, new technology is on the horizon. While there are no black and white plans, everything from casino gaming, fitness and war games could be enhanced by AR technology.

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Source | Pixabay

Your Casino, Your Way

The online casino industry is currently a $41 billion empire and with this size and money comes innovation. Since 2000, online casino games have become more realistic, but in the last few months the virtual reality vibe has found its way into the industry. At the tail end of 2015, software developer Microgaming harnessed the power of Oculus Rift and Leap 3D controllers to create the first virtual reality roulette game.

Although a prototype, the game showed what is possible in the coming years, which is why AR could conceivably be used to enhance certain games. For example, if we were to look at the online blackjack options available at https://casino.betway.be/, you can see that the virtual games come in a range of forms.

Because the site aims to offer blackjack “your way,” each game contains customizable features, but AR could make Betway’s mobile blackjack even more personal. How? Well, instead of playing on a standard table, you could overlay cards and casino chips on your own table, the dashboard of a car (if you’re a passenger) or the wall. Just like Pokémon characters have been overlaid on streets around the world, the elements of a blackjack game could be placed over any setting you like.

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Source | Pixabay

Making Fitness Fun

Just as the casino industry is exploring virtual reality options, fitness companies such as Icaros, Widerun or VirZOOM are making exercise more immersive. By placing you in a virtual setting, these developers are basically turning your home into a gym, and it’s helping people become fitter without any of pressure that comes from working out in public.

In a similar vein to this, mobile fitness apps could soon use AR to make people healthier. Indeed, it could be argued that Pokémon Go is encouraging people to get out and be more active (i.e. walk around and find characters), but this could be taken a step further by adding bonuses and time objectives.

For example, a group of players could join a game and the aim could be to collect as many discs in the local area in the fastest time possible. If this was the case you’d see people running from point-to-point which would essentially turn their daily jog into a game. Anytime you can make exercise more entertaining people will love it, so there’s certainly scope for AR to enhance the fitness world.

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Oculus Rift” (CC 2.0) by Marco Verch

The Future is AR

Beyond casino games and fitness apps, AR could boost battlefield-style games like Call of Duty. Instead of staying static and completing missions, players could use their mobile and the terrain around them to infiltrate enemy lines, score points and win the battle.

Pokémon Go might be a phenomenon in its own right, but it’s also a game that’s helping to pave the way for future developments. With people buying into the game and its AR capabilities, developers now know that they have an audience. The upshot of this is a network of companies working to build the AR genre and create a new series of mobile games and apps that take immersion and entertainment to the next level.