Pokemon Go


Screenshot of a Ratata at Coughton Court (National Trust)

Now, unless you’ve been living under a rather large rock all summer it’s unlikely to have escaped your attention the sheer number of people playing Pokemon Go. Now, whether you’ve played it yourself (I think it’s rather awesome!), or know someone else who does, it’s unlikely you haven’t at least heard the name. But, what I wanted to talk about was how this app could both be utilised and analysed for the heritage sector.

How can the heritage sector embrace Pokemon Go?

Maybe the best way to engage with people when they go to heritage sites, such as museums and stately homes, is to embrace popular culture. Below is an excellent example of a sign used in a zoo in Birmingham, Alabama. What this zoo recognised, rather cleverly, is that if they imitated the layout people were familiar with in the app then it was getting people to look at the signs. Indeed, is this something the heritage sector should be doing? Rather than try and reinvent the wheel, look at what people are familiar with and imitate that?


Exhibit sign at a zoo in Birmingham, Alabama, USA

But you don’t need to go as far as to change all your signage to embrace Pokemon Go. Like Ingress (an app I talked about earlier in the year also created by Niantic), it gets people to the door. It’s then the institutions job to get people engaged once they get there. Not an easy job because the people it has attracted went there for the Pokestop, but maybe that’s the kind of challenge that museums now face.

For example, National Trust properties sometimes have a wealth of Pokestops in their grounds (sometimes even gyms!). But, while some properties have fully embraced it, as have a lot of churches, some properties are not as keen. I think, however, that not utilising what is essentially free advertising is a lost opportunity.

What can we learn from Pokemon Go?

eeveeI think Pokemon Go is the first application of its kind to really showcase how AR can be used. To an extent, this is what the York Hologram Tour was trying to achieve with overlaying moving digital images over real life footage. The difference, well Pokemon Go have done it rather more successfully. But, is that just because the technology has improved so much in the last three years??

Regardless, I think this really does show the potential for AR in future applications. Whether that be in the heritage sector beyond.

Imagine being able to overlay extra information about an exhibit virtually over it. Maybe play a short clip of how an object was used. Maybe it’s time for the heritage sector to start examining whether this is a plausible direction to go in in the next few years.

So, what do you think? Is the heritage sector ready for Pokemon Go or for Augmented Reality applications in general?


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