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Pokémon Go through HoloLens
A mixed-reality view through a Microsoft HoloLens headset shows a Charizard taunting a Pokemon Go player. (Credit: Koder via YouTube)

Millions of Pokémon Go players are peering into smartphones to look for animated characters in an augmented-reality world, but what if they could look for them wearing Microsoft’s HoloLens headset instead?

That’s not commercially available at this point, but a couple of coding teams thought it would be cool to work up prototypes for a Pokeman/HoloLens mash-up – and now they’re sharing their results.

California-based Koder developed one such prototype. “My colleague [Paul Nguyen] and I built it over a 2-day period and made a video to show the experience,” Elmer Morales, Koder’s founder and CEO, told GeekWire in an email.

In a YouTube comment, Morales said the players used a mobile hotspot in their pockets to hook up to the internet. “However, HoloLens doesn’t have to be connected to WiFi for it to function,” he said.

The only suggestion I can offer is to aim better with those jury-rigged PokéBalls you’re throwing, Elmer.

The PokéBalls hit their mark more easily in the demo app created by Capitola VR, a studio based in Amsterdam. To throw the virtual ball, players pinch their thumbs and index fingers together in the air. The ball automatically flies back after it catches a Pokémon character.

“The fact that the studio was able to get a prototype working on HoloLens means that there’s a possibility that the game could work as a full AR experience in the future,” Rexly Peñaflorida wrote in a report for Tom’s Hardware.

Less than two weeks after Pokémon Go’s release, the game is going in lots of interesting directions. For example, developer Michael Hsu used a visual recognition service on IBM Watson’s IoT platform to monitor the Pokémon Go app in the background and send alerts when it spots sought-after characters.

“Watson can track Pokémon around the world, and other players can see there’s a really rare one that I want really bad over here, somebody else found it, now I can go get it,” Stefania Kaczmarczyk, a developer evangelist for IBM’s Digital Group, said in a blog post about Hsu’s hack.

The feat earned Hsu top honors in the “Best Use of Watson” challenge at last weekend’s AT&T Shape Tech Expo Hackathon in San Francisco.

Closer to home, Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center is testing Pokémon Go as a motivator to get burn patients up and moving after treatment. Meanwhile, Curbed and Trulia have developed online maps to track likely hangouts for virtual characters in the Seattle area.

Will Pokémon Go and its augmented-reality successors (such as Magic Leap) set off the augmented-reality revolution that tech seers have been predicting, or will it turn out to be merely a fad of Tamagotchi-scale proportions? That could well be the multibillion-dollar question.

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