The charm of pocket monsters
In a new twist on augmented reality, Pokémon GO is currently enjoying a worldwide frenzy of popularity. This 2016 release is the ‘real world’ realisation of ‘pocket monster’ characters that first appeared in games for the Nintendo Game Boy dating back to the 1990s.
In this latest incarnation, the game characters appear on a map simulating a player’s surroundings. When a player chances upon a new ‘pocket monster’, the character is superimposed onto the camera image recorded on one’s mobile phone. It is this mix of the real and digital world that puts the game firmly in the ‘augmented reality’ (AR) category.
The Intellectual Property (IP) behind the business
Much of the technology’s patent ownership goes to American software development company, Niantic, Inc. Niantic began life within Google, but was spun out following the formation of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. According to public records, patent ownership was transferred from Google to Niantic with effect from 6 October 2015. An article in Recode explains how Google’s need to work with other developers to accelerate its growth (Nintendo in this case) might might contributed to its decision to transfer patent ownership.
The patent for Pokémon GO focuses heavily on the location-based aspects of the technology that make the game possible. The abstract from the patent reads,
“The method includes receiving, at a computing device, communication data for a plurality of players associated with the location based-game. The method further includes filtering the communication data for each player based on one or more signals associated with the respective player.”
|Related reading: IP FAQ: How much of my process or product must be developed before I can register for a patent?|
How this impacts future trends
The social element
The patent technically describes two outcomes we see from the consumer perspective that have contributed to the game’s success. As the New York Times points out, many games go viral overnight that cause people to coop themselves up in their homes for days; while Pokémon GO sends them out into streets and parks. Meanwhile, the social element will attract those who are otherwise ‘naturally-disinclined’ by AR.
Innovation… begins with the consumers?
We have seen in other industries how wide acceptance and familiarity of a technology in the consumer environment can accelerate ‘heavier duty’ applications of the same technology in the industrial or professional world. Video and voice call application Skype is one such example for its success in displacing enterprise instant messaging and video communications solutions.
The consumer success of AR will therefore be welcomed by all those players who are pursuing more sophisticated implementations of the technology, as it embeds the technology within the mindset of everyday users.
The rise of augmented reality
In an in-depth study on this emerging innovation space, it was noted that the number of patents containing the term ‘AR’ were growing at a much faster rate than ‘VR’ alone. It is also apparent that a ‘second wave’ of interest in the technology has been much stronger than the first wave of interest registered in the early 2000s:
Download PatSnap’s whitepaper on virtual and augmented reality here.
It also comes as no surprise that the Entertainment category, much like Pokémon GO’s overwhelming popularity, takes the lion’s share of patenting activity. Tagging closely behind are verticals Healthcare and Automotive.
Some of the biggest AR profit margins are expected to be made from industrial and enterprise applications in these verticals. However, one thing is clear – with the rise of Pokémon GO, everyone in this space is a winner.
This article is a guest contribution by patent analytics platform, PatSnap.
For a full review of innovation trends in VR and AR markets, download their free white paper, where they explore the topic in greater detail.
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