So you’ve been playing Pokémon Go for years now and are still going strong. Yet that burning desire to throw a real-world Pokeball – and yell “Pikachu, I choose you!” – and have a pocket monster pop out is still lurking unfulfilled.
And as pandemic-related lockdowns put a serious damper on the game’s exhortations for players to go outside and explore the world together, you might be left wishing for a safe way to virtually meet up with like-minded friends to hunt Pikachus and his adorable fellow monsters, or challenge other Trainers to battles. But how?
To scratch that itch, Pokémon Go is toying with going even further into augmented reality, following a collaboration with Microsoft to use its AR/VR software and HoloLens 2 headsets.
The game’s developer Niantic announced it would be testing Microsoft’s mixed reality programme, Mesh, which enabled people to interact with each other or at presentations as holograms by wearing smart glasses.
In an interview with CNet, Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke said the company said these tests were still in an experimental stage, though the company wanted to rush out to see how gameplay would work on the smart glasses.
He said the HoloLens 2 was being paired with phones to get mobile connection and GPS, then used in place of the phone.
“Holding up your phone and seeing through the screen is one thing, but when you have the headset on and the Pokemon are all around you, and they’re 12 feet tall, it’s just magical,” he said.
However, Hanke added that Pokemon Go might work with other smart glasses in the future.
He predicted that there would be multiple mixed reality headsets and platforms in the market: “I don’t think we’re at the point where there’s one ecosystem to rule them all.”
Niantic would also be collaborating with immersive theater company Punchdrunk for potential future social experiences or events, and with Qualcomm on smart glasses concepts.
“That area of live entertainment, thinking about exploding that out into a mixed reality world where you could have people physically present and at a performance, you could map the real show to your house and have real performances happening with holographic players,” he said.