Being the Best, like No One ever was

Pokémon is one of the biggest, if not the biggest piece of transmedia in the world. Which begs to differ why something like Pokémon GO took so long to come out in the first place. Pokémon Go when it first came out allowed the user to become a Pokémon trainer and brought creatures called Pokémon lose throughout the world. By going out in the world, and trying to collect as many Pokémon as you can, it is a fun and entertaining way to waste time. The game was designed so everyone who was a fan of Pokémon or Nintendo in general to enjoy a mindless Pokémon adventure with friends and family. Though it took off faster than anyone could imagine but for a time period when the game first released, everyone in the world was obsessed with this game. Even people who weren’t fans of Pokémon to begin with had this game downloaded.

Pokémon GO at its core is to bring a long a waited wish for all fans of the series, to bring Pokémon into the real world and allow people to train and battle with each other whenever they so pleased. The game starts you off with a few Pokéballs and a choice to pick which team you would like to represent based off one of the three legendary birds: Valor for Moltres, Instinct for Zapdos, and Mystic for Articuno. After that it is smooth sailing and lets you explore the world of Pokémon. By walking your neighborhood, there a locations called Pokéstops that allowed a user to walk past it and rewards players with Pokéballs and other goodies to allow them succeed. These Pokéstops we reusable as well so as long as one came back after a certain time frame, they could continually be rewarded at the Pokéstops. Another huge mechanic is Gym Battles. Unlike in the main line games, Pokémon Go allows the player to be a gym leader and place one of their strongest Pokémon as a challenge for anyone that is willing to face you. It is a brand new experience for long term fans and allows you to compete with others around your neighborhood. It is a cool mechanic and it is a shame that it hasn’t been replicated yet into mainline Pokémon games. There are even events where you take a whole party of players and battle it out with one of the many legendary Pokémon in a chance to grab one of your own.

The AR that is established in Pokémon Go is nothing too hard to understand but works very well. It is a combination of using Google Maps/Earth to track ones location and using one camera to find and collect Pokémon that are littered all around the world. Each in their own unique location and landscapes. It was very easy to use and the AR mechanics weren’t overly complicated or complex. It was very easy for anyone to use and provided a good amount of entertainment for all. It was so entertaining that people wouldn’t take their eyes off their phone. This kind of lead to some issues of not looking where you are going to the point where people were actually walking and getting hit by cars, breaking into people’s property to capture a Pikachu, etc. This could be considered human error and not something that the game could control but other than the spawn location for each Pokémon, there wasn’t any groundbreaking issues in this game.

Overall the game is very entertain and I highly suggest checking it out, especially if you are a Pokémon fan like yours truly. The game is available on all devices on each of their own app stores for free.

‘Pokemon Go’ Creator on Augmented Reality’s Massive Potential – Variety: This link lead to the article I found about the creator of Pokémon Go and the thoughts on AR and their game.

The Complete Beginners Guide To Pokemon Go (Everything To Know) – YouTube: This is a guide to help new players out in the game for any that are interested.

Using AR to social distance

A video shows what the lens looks like and how to use it.

While having strangers in your personal bubble has never really been desired, it is definitely unwanted during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a means of decreasing the spread of the virus, the CDC recommends social distancing while in public. That can sometimes be easier said than done, however. Most public places such as stores try to help as best they can with floor markers placed six feet apart, but sometimes they aren’t there and sometimes other people pay no attention to them. So, how can you really know if you are keeping a safe social distance? The New York Times has an AR lens that can help with that.

The New York Times, one of the most widely popular New York City-based media outlets in the U.S., created an AR lens and 3-D simulation that show what social distancing is and why it is important. The article/simulation and lens can be found on The New York Times website and app and are there to help and inform anyone who finds themself in a social situation during the pandemic.

The AR lens is very useful in its purpose. It allows the user to ensure a distance of six feet from any nearby person by displaying a red circle that surrounds the user and extends six feet from them on the phone screen. It uses the camera to place the circle within the actual space that the user is standing in. Because of that, it also is a great utilization of AR. There really would be no other way of doing this.

Although useful, the lens may not always be convenient. If you’re at the grocery store, you probably need both of your hands available and can’t walk around with your phone in your face. You could use it only when stopped next to other people, but the number of steps it takes to pull up the lens may deplete the purpose. It also would drain your battery if used for extensive periods of time and will lose its purpose with the end of the pandemic (although it probably still has quite some time left).

While maybe not practical at all times, this use of AR is still a great idea for our specific situation. With the start of the pandemic, we were so used to not having to be aware of our distance from others, and this lens is a good way to develop that awareness.

Photos show visuals and instruction prompts seen while using lens.

AR Beauty Company

ModiFace is an augmented reality-based company centered around creating augmented reality technology for beauty brands. This company offers live try-on simulations and uses technology to track a person’s facial features with accurate detail. L’Oreal purchased this augmented reality beauty company based in Canada in 2018. 

The type of people a company like ModiFace and even L’Oreal would be targeting is women and men who use beauty products. This is a very specific audience they are working to target, but on the other hand it is a very large audience so creating something new in the beauty community is exciting and a lot of people will want to pay attention to it. 

ModiFace is a really functional and useful because they use technologies that haven’t been used in the beauty industry a whole lot before. They use something called Real-time Facial Analysis to gain highly accurate slight movements/expressions by looking at nearly 70 facial indicators most wouldn’t even think about on a day-to-day basis, such as wrinkles or freckles. ModiFace claims this is one of the most accurate technologies in the world. This is a big claim, but it seems they have the door open for more opportunities because a few brands chose to give them a chance once upon a time. 

They took augmented reality There are also multiple other projects they have created and offer. Some of these include a Sephora Virtual Artist, web e-commerce AR on a brand’s website, and even in-store AR mirrors. Each of these have a similar if not the exact same purpose. 

This company has made strides in the direction of a more advanced beauty industry. 

You can find more information on their website: https://modiface.com

Mission To Mars AR

About a month ago, NASA’s Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter touched down in the Jezero crater on Mars and to celebrate that, Poland-based developer Immersion, gave the world a chance to conduct our own mission on the planet while using the same tools and vehicles that were employed on the actual $2.8 billion Mars 2020 mission by creating a new smartphone-based augmented reality experience called Mission To Mars AR. For those space enthusiasts, this mission experience is available free on IOS and Android is the perfect chance for you to place yourself on Mars as if you were actually there.

So what makes this AR experience exceptional you may ask? Well, to begin, you will get to operate the expensive Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter drone, conduct the adrenaline-pumping landing sequence, and perform surface scans in search of interesting phenomenons. In addition to those three things, there are also seven different activities that the Mission to Mars AR features, including: Meet the Rovers, Drive the Rovers, Mars Overview, Launch the Rocket, Mars Portal, 7 Minutes of Terror, and Mission on Mars.

With the feature of Meet the Rovers, you will get the chance to be up close and personal with both past and present rovers, and see how the machinery has advanced over the years.

The feature of Drive the Rovers, you will get behind the wheel and navigate your real-world surroundings with the power of AR.

The Mars Overview feature will let you search for unique features while towering over the bite-sized planet.

While using the Launch the Rocket feature, you are able to launch the Atlas V rocket anywhere you would like in whatever environment you choose.

By using the Mars Portal, you are able to enter an AR portal leading to Mars and explore a future human colony.

During the 7 Minutes of Terror feature, you will compete against NASA’s robotic automation to see who can better control the landing sequence.

With the Mission on Mars feature, you will complete various Perseverance missions and fly the Ingenuity helicopter.

The only weakness to this AR experience in my opinion would be the directions that are given during it. Yes, it does give many signals and directions as to what and how you should experience a certain feature, but I think they could be much clearer because even I had some trouble figuring out how to work certain things.

This experience is very appropriate for AR because people will get the chance to step into a different universe like never before. With all the built in features to this experience, not only will people get to walk through a portal into Mars, but they also will get to drive rovers and launch rockets. I give this AR experience two thumbs up!

Link to Mission To Mars AR story: https://vrscout.com/news/mars-rover-landing-mission-to-mars-ar/

Link to the company Immersion: https://immersion.pl/

A video of me using one of the features in Mission To Mars AR on IOS.

Think Outside of the Page

By Ryan Whitt

Bedford and Edenvale News, a South African newspaper, has recently integrated the app Pixzar with their newspaper, which allows the user to take a picture of their edition of Bedford and Edenvale News and have their phone load videos, graphs, or other additional information in an augmented reality space.

A demonstration of the Pixzar App being used with a Bedford and Edenvale newspaper.

Bedford and Edenvale News is not the first company to do this, newspapers have been doing this off and on for the last 10 years to varying success. Bedford and Edenvale just happened to be the most recent one I could find, but you can find tons of newspapers with AR functionality.

A Japanese newspaper, the Tokyo Shimbun, created an AR app in 2013 that helped make newspapers more digestible for children.

The Tokyo Shimbun AR app that provides interactivity that makes reading the news engaging for children

AR has been used for dozens of years in newspapers across the globe, but it has yet to really catch on. The Washington Post doesn’t just include augmented reality support with every article, and I think that is simply a mistake.

I think that more newspapers need to be making and using apps like Pixzar, because it opens up an entirely new layer to how print journalism can be handled. Print journalism for newspapers and print journalism for an online publication are currently two very different worlds, but apps like Pixzar help bridge that gap.

Pixzar allows anyone to make their own custom AR app through their own software, which helps smaller companies like Bedford and Edenvale News integrate AR into their products without having to devote a massive amount of manpower or money into the project.

The Pixzar plugin that Bedford and Edenvale uses allows you to look at a page and immediately be met with accompanying videos that help further explain the subjects, the same way a hyperlink or embedded video would help explain a subject in an online publication. The functionality of that is not to be underestimated.

Say an article absolutely needs a video to be properly understood, normally that article has to be published only on the online version of your newspaper, if it is published at all. Now, that article can be ran in both the physical and digital runs without issue.

A lot of newspapers don’t even fully take advantage of their online counterparts by only posting the same pictures and texts that are used in the physical releases instead of utilizing hyperlinks or videos. AR allows for newspapers to stop having to sacrifice that aspect of their online versions, as well as allow them to include those links in their physical version, making for a higher variety of what can be reported on in newspapers.

Of course the possibilities an app like Pixzar presents are not without their flaws. Having an AR centric newspaper risks alienating older audiences, and if you are running a physical newspaper the odds are high that your audience is mainly the elderly. However if only a handful of articles, say just the front page article and maybe 2 or 3 less important articles, had AR functionality then you would minimize the risks and still expand the coverage of your newspaper.

Despite these risks, I think that the future of physical newspapers lies in AR. Being able to bring videos from a page onto your phone is an amazing technology, and helps make newspapers easier to condense into more appealing bite-size pieces of information like their online counterparts.

As for the parts of this blog post where I am supposed to help demonstrate the app, I do not have a copy of the Bedford and Edenvale newspaper to showcase it, so I hope the above video helps accurately portray what Pixzar and other AR apps can do for the field of journalism.