Pokémon Go has taken over the world and the news cycle. Using augmented reality (A.R.) technology powered by your phone’s GPS, the app is able to make it seem like Pokémon are all around you, allowing the average person live out their fantasy of being a Pokemon trainer. The more you move around your neighborhood (and, for some, the world), the more Pokémon you can capture in your Poké Ball. It even integrates real-world locations and landmarks in the app, like The White House.
If all of this sounds like gibberish to you, here’s a quick refresher: PokémonGo is based on the nintendo game turned wildly popular 90s cartoon TV show. The Pokémon world centers on fictional creatures called Pokémon that are caught and trained by people called Pokémon trainers who then battle the Pokémon for sport. Refer to this article for further context.
Luckily, you don’t need to be a Pokémon superfan to enjoy an app that actually makes you want to go out and move in pursuit of capturing adorable and powerful creatures. Countless stories are being published every day about how the AR app has been bringing strangers together in community, friendship, and in love, helped those with mental illness, and has created the kinds of humorous situations that arise when people are paying more attention to their phones instead of what’s in front of them.
The app is one of the most mainstream uses of A.R. yet (Snapchat’s filters are another popular use of A.R.), and its success could pave the way for even more innovative uses of the technology, especially for health and wellness. Here are our thoughts on how this technology can be leveraged to make us all a little bit healthier.
Fitness apps for kids
By getting kids off of the couch and moving outside Pokémon Go has succeeded where many other colorful commercials and heartfelt initiatives have failed. App makers should follow suit and use story-rich journeys to motivate kids to be more active. When every walk is a hunt for something exciting, exercise turns into dynamic fun.
Bringing the outside inside
People can bypass the winter blues by using the technology to bring the wonders of nature inside (once A.R, is paired with more user-friendly wearable technology). People already use their TV to make it feel like they’re cycling outside, A.R. could build on that industry, making exercising in the comfort of your home a fully immersive experience.
Making healthier food choices
An AR app that uses popular food and grocery locations to inform adults and children about the real nutritional value of the food they’re about to buy and eat would really empower everyone to make healthier choices.
It could also help those living in food deserts eat healthier by pointing out
Even though Pokémon Go has inspired adults and children to go outside and be more active, there is still some concern that, no matter what the benefits, it's not a good thing that we’re still tethered to our smartphones. It's a valid critique, but we still shouldn't discredit the possibilities of A.R.
We’ve talked about this before – how using technology (instead of trying to avoid it) just might be the push someone needs to get started on a healthy habit.
Pokémon Go shows no signs of slowing down. You never know, you might meet a new friend or your future spouse though the app. Personally, I’ve been using it to help me explore a new city. Whatever you use it for, just be careful, there’s no point in being healthy if you’re jeopardizing your safety.
It’s an exciting time for A.R. Thanks to Pokémon Go, what used to be an undervalued technology now has companies scrambling to use it in hopes of emulating Pokémon’s success. And, given the unexpected health benefits of the app, this spotlight on A.R. could translate to dynamic health and wellness apps that blur the line between health and fun.
And who knows? Maybe this combination of A.R., games, story, and health will make people see that health and wellness aren’t separate from daily living, but instead empower us to live better lives where we test our limits, explore new worlds, and connect to larger communities.