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September 15, 2016

Pokémon Go in practice: old ideas giving way to new

What began as a peaceful day on the beach, ended in relative chaos. There I was, playing with my children building the best sandcastle ever, when literally hundreds of people went charging past hysterically. Oblivious to everything around them and blindly following their smartphones, they were all hunting Pokémon. And that was the end of our sand creation. Within just a few months Niantic, the developer of Pokémon Go, has managed to turn millions of people into enthusiastic augmented reality fans. Could this game’s popularity provide insight on this technology and its potential for the workplace?

Article - Social Physics

This article explores how IoT and Big Data help us understand behavior in the workplace. Social Physics also has implications for facility management.

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The digital and real worlds coming together
Augmented reality (AR) is the technology with which a digital layer is superimposed on the physical world. For example, point your smartphone’s camera at the road, and you’ll see the road with a digital overlay. In Pokémon Go this extra layer of information takes the form of animated Pokémon the user has to walk around to find and catch. AR was first noted in Gartner’s hypecycle in 2005, but it never quite made the real breakthrough. Niantic appears to have become the first to achieve it on such an expansive level.

Old ideas giving way to new
Although the possibilities of AR have been known for some time, its real value is still not always clear. You can look at it in two ways to determine that value (old thinking versus new), and that immediately makes it interesting in terms of workplace innovation. Previously one would consider a specific problem and then work to find a solution to that problem (old thinking), therefore, the product immediately had concrete usefulness and thus it had added value.

In the new way of thinking a “minimum viable product” is put onto the market. This is a trimmed-down version of the product with minimal functionalities. The product is then improved with each new version based on user experience and feedback, eventually producing a stable, more valuable product. This approach allows the latest developments to be applied while maturing the product.

The added value in practice
In a similar way AR can also be deployed in the workplace—think maintenance management or in designing and equipping buildings. The technology exists and many organizations are investigating whether it might also have a specific value for them. In terms of the facilities field there are already employees of security companies using Google Glass at work, and logistics organizations are deploying this technology for order-picking. AR is being used mainly to make the work easier, or to speed it up, which are both clear values for the user.

According to the new way of thinking, technology keeps being extended and new features are added. Just as Pokémon Go features have been added and changed based on user experience, workplace innovation technology would evolve as well. The longer the technology is in use and the more user experiences and feedback are assessed, the greater the added value can become.

Perhaps the next version of Pokémon Go may even gain a feature that warns of sandcastles that may be in the way. Then the game not only has added value for its fans, but also for me and my children.

Geert-Jan Blom
Business Consultant Planon Netherlands