Carnegie Mellon University
August 11, 2016

How Pokémon Go Could Affect Our Daily Lives

Pokémon Go

By Julianne Mattera / 412-268-2902 /

International gaming sensation Pokémon Go is a “game changer” for augmented reality, which uses technology to modify what people see around them through digital overlays.

Jeffrey Bigham, associate professor of human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science, said because of the game’s massive popularity, many people now are talking about augmented reality and playing games while on the go.
“There’s so much more potential for augmented reality than what Pokémon Go shows,” Bigham said. “But I think it’s just the beginning, hopefully, of what we’ll see.”
Bigham and other experts at CMU said the augmented reality game is raising questions, such as how it could be used in education, business or in everyday matters, such as whether or not an elevator is out of order.
“One area that I’m really interested in is how we can turn players of these sorts of games into sensors on the world,” Bigham said. “… So that could help a lot of different people navigate the world more easily.”
For example, Bigham said a person in a wheelchair might want to know in advance if the elevator is out of order at their subway stop, and “you could imagine setting up Pokémon Go Pokestops or gyms at the subway station and, as one game element, ask people about the elevator.”
More broadly, augmented reality has the potential to amplify human abilities, Bigham said. He gave the examples of people in a room with their names showing above each of their heads or, for those who aren’t mechanics, perhaps an augmented reality overlay combined with a YouTube video that could help the user perform minor maintenance on a car.
Drew Davidson, director of the Entertainment Technology Center at CMU, said people already are asking how aspects of Pokémon Go can be used for education.
“Because kids like it, and they care,” Davidson said. “How can you take these mechanics and this idea, even if it’s not Pokémon Go specifically, just understand what’s making it work.”
The card game, in particular, can be intricate, and some children who have played the Pokémon card game are very knowledgeable about how to pull together a deck that will be competitive against another player’s deck, Davidson said.  
“The level of complexity mirrors almost anything you could tackle in school,” Davidson said. “How do you get them that inspired and that engaged?”