Augmented Reality and Urban Revitalization
Who all had a very unorthodox summer spent chasing virtual monsters around town? If you are like me and did just that last summer or maybe longer, then you can blame John Hanke for that. Pokémon Go is the brainchild of Niantic Inc.
Hanke and Gill were able to provide insightful commentary on revitalizing and reclaiming public spaces. Hanke did admit that Niantic did not expect how viral this game would be and how no one could have predicted it. “People tell me Pokémon Go died down. I assure you, 10’s of millions of people are still using Pokémon Go every day, ” Hanke said. One of the craziest scenes that came from the summer hit was a viral video of a mob of people in Taiwan storming the street after chasing a rare Pokémon, Snorlax. You can see it in the video below.
Niantic’s whole focus of the game was to get people outside and it worked. There were masses of people going to typically empty places but instead playing Pokémon Go like at libraries. One of the biggest challenges of getting people outside is infinite programming & content that’s compelling like Netflix that cause people to like to stay inside. “It’s a big issue as a society that people are plugging in and shutting off & staying in,” Hanke stated.
When the game first launched back in July, there was hardly any communication and that is something Niantic has worked on. One thing that they have done is reach out to public spaces and offer an option to have timed access to features which did not exist back in July.
Gill and Hanke are working on a project together that involves revamping public spaces that are under used. However, Hanke was mysterious when mentioning upcoming projects outside of Pokémon Go and the game itself. He managed to avoid too many Pokémon Go related questions and instead kept the focus on urban revitalization by highlighting what Niantic has done like the Japan Lapras Event.