It's safe to say that Pokémon Go is a success. The app has taken control of more than 7.5 million mobile devices since its release on July 6 and hasn't even released its first round of updates.
Pokémon Go uses a basic form of augmented reality, simply layering animation over camera data, but its implications go much further than just filling out a well-balanced Pokedex. While the game in its current form doesn't rely on actual spatial elements apart from a city map and your device's built-in GPS, you can expect future augmented reality mobile apps to do just that once technology improves.
According to Vox, 3D imaging chips like Intel's RealSense, will make augmented reality behave more like actual reality. Added to that, the next generation of mobile imaging will rely on range-finding sensors or multiple cameras to provide even more accuracy.
A smartphone with a 3D sensor would consider the size and dimensions of a room when portraying images in an augmented reality setting. You could rearrange your furniture from your phone or even walk through an addition to your home before even calling an architect.
“Augmented reality is the bigger play because humans still get to touch, and still have a better connection with, their immediate real-time physical world,” said Todd Richmond, an IEEE member and director of advanced prototype development at University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. “It is an easier transaction to process.”
According to MarketWatch, virtual reality is still attracting more development attention than augmented reality, with headsets from Facebook, Oculus Rift, and HTC’s Vive commanding most of the market. Sony’s PlayStation VR is expected in 2016. But don't expect that lead to remain. Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is working on an augmented-reality headset, while Alphabet Inc.’s Project Tango is focusing more on mobile device applications, and Google is funding the largely unknown startup Magic Leap to the tune of $542 million in hopes of augmented reality glasses.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has said "immersive augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people," and with the success of Pokémon Go, that statement is quickly proving true.
It could be some time before we see some major strides in augmented reality, as the technology exists but still makes for bulky and inefficient hardware. However, given that the VR industry saw heavy investment around the time Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion in 2014, the popularity of Pokémon Go could drive the same attention to augmented reality.