In the world of smartphones and virtual applications we have come to a new universe to explore. Augmented reality is finally gaining traction as Pokémon GO, one of the most downloaded mobile game apps of all time, has changed the way people interact with their environment and each other.
Make no mistake, there are many variables to consider when it comes to disruptive technology and Pokémon GO is no acception. With news stories about people stumbling upon corpses, or walking into traffic being quite prolific in the news and on our social media feeds, it is easy to feel it could do more bad than good. Of course this isn’t truly the case as many positive things come with new technology. In the case of Pokémon GO we at the Arboretum have found that the game’s developer has gone to great lengths to include real-world data in the game which opens up a slew of opportunities for knowledge transfer.
Much of our signage in the park has been designated as locations for players of the game to not only make gains in-game, but also serve to include the tangible environment as a part of this. Points along the trail have been highlighted as beneficial to visit for users seeking to get ahead. This acts as a prompt for individuals and groups to take part in learning is present on more than one platform.
Take for instance this sign about salt content in soil. The game prompts users as to the presence of information.
With the creativity of educators this can be pushed even further as it would offer students incentive to pay closer attention to the environment. In tandem with this point of interest is may be an in-game “gym” which is a larger area of interest to all who play the game. These gyms areas are essentially rally-points which tend to be in an area with seating and space; they’re perfect for harboring a group as a potential audience for an interpretive guide or a teacher to present.
Hopefully service providers to extend their reach to parks and garden as often they are not completely covered. The Arboretum out here in Superior, Arizona for the moment seems mostly compatible with only those on Verizon and T-mobile networks. We fully anticipate educators and those who operate in interpretive capacities will be looking closely at augmented reality apps to better information transfer. It is very exciting. It definitely doesn’t end here. If you would like to give it a try Pokémon GO is available on smartphone devices in both the Apple store and Google play.