Augmented Reality Technology Review by the case Pokémon Go
Today there is no person who would not hear about the game Pokemon GO. Some became her fans, others do not hold back criticism. One way or another, the game is gaining popularity.
Today I would like to talk directly about how this game works and how virtual heroes appear at given points on the map.
Augmented reality technology is reality supplemented by virtual objects using a computer.
Augmented reality has long been used in the military industry, for example, in the HUD displays of military fighters, informing the pilot about the technical condition of the aircraft and enemy targets. Today, such displays can be found in luxury cars that display primary information about the condition of the car on the windshield. HUD displays have found application in the advertising field. Advertising companies offer their customers interactive showcases built on this technology.
There were already solutions on the market of mobile applications using augmented reality technology for geolocation, but these applications did not cause such a social effect. About 10 years ago, Layar developed an augmented reality Internet browser of the same name. The idea of the browser was to “revive” the surrounding objects. For example, when you buy a pack of chips, you could point your smartphone at it and get additional information (video, animated picture). However, despite the creativity of the idea, the browser did not take root. The problem is not the idea, but the ways of reproducing augmented reality. The fact is that in order to obtain additional information about a product, you have to perform quite a lot of additional actions, but the main inconvenience is the need to hold a smartphone in your hands when performing other operations. Those. it must be understood that when reading a newspaper or buying a pack of chips, the user gives priority not to receiving additional information in the form of augmented reality, but to receiving a product (buying chips or reading a newspaper). In the case of the development of augmented reality games, the user gives priority to the time for the game process using a mobile phone, so augmented reality does not puzzle, but expands the scope of the game world.
Augmented reality technology is not just the integration of virtual content into the real world. This technology is a container of related technologies that accompany the virtualization process of the world.
The game Pokemon GO uses several technologies to complement reality. The first technology is geolocation. In modern devices, the GPS-receiver allows solving the problem of location. Based on satellite data, the coordinates on the ground are determined. But it’s not enough just to determine the coordinates, you need to understand at what height the device is above sea level, in addition, you need to know where the north is, at what angle the device is now located and at what speed it moves. The second place is given to the sensors gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, altimeter.
Thus, if you follow the gameplay of Pokemon GO, you can understand at what point in time all these technologies are applied. When the game starts, it connects to the server, at this moment your device connects the GPS-receiver and tries to determine the coordinates. After connecting, the player sees his avatar on the city map. The coordinates about your location are transferred to a central server, which, according to an internal closed algorithm, determines in which part of the map the Pokemon is placed. Most likely, the algorithm estimates the density of players per square distance and generates the appropriate amount of content.
When you find a Pokemon on the map and advance in search of it, the game transmits the telemetry of your device to the central server. Your speed of movement, direction of movement, height above sea level, all this is necessary to generate content at a given point. When the player arrives at his destination and intensively looks out for the “beast” on the screen of his smartphone, looking around, at this moment the server processes the telemetry of the device. The server receives data on the player’s geolocation, in which direction the device is directed and at what height it is. Then the content is generated at a certain point. Surely the question arises: why is altitude necessary? Everything is simple here, the fact is that if you are limited only by satellite data, then when generating content, the game does not understand at what height the virtual object should be placed. Thus, without an altimeter, a Pokemon may be at the height of a 20 story building and the player will not see it.
Continuing the topic of augmented reality, there is a technology for positioning virtual content based on image recognition (markers). When you point the smartphone’s camera at a pre-prepared marker, the program classifies it and imposes pre-prepared content on it. In the game, Pokemon GO, the developers did not implement such a mechanism for placing Pokemon. The displayed Pokemon is not located on a real object, it is simply displayed in a separate layer on the device’s camera viewfinder, creating the illusion of being in space. It is impossible to get around a Pokemon, it will always be located at a certain virtual distance from the player and look at the player. However, the lack of this mechanism in the game is compensated by the gameplay in which there is no need to approach the character. The virtual pet must be located at a distance from the player in order to try to catch him with the help of pokeball.
Summing up, we can confidently say that today in the market for augmented reality games, Pokemon GO takes first place. At the same time, many indie developers began to develop their own projects using new technology and in the near future we will see new gaming solutions. Whether the game Pokemon GO will be able to maintain a leading position, time will tell, but for now, millions of users around the world continue to collect virtual characters in the most unpredictable places in their cities.