In a short span, Pokemon Go has turned into the biggest mobile game in US history, overtaking Twitter as well as Facebook in terms of daily users, thanks to a futuristic technology, called Augmented Reality (AR).

AR is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment, whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

Due to similar technology, AR is often compared with Virtual Reality (VR). In India, Smaaash is one place where one can play some great VR games using a mix of motion and positional tracking and virtual reality high-definition Head Mounted Displays.

Smaaash is an entertainment centre founded by Shripal Morakhia (and backed by master blaster Sachin Tendulkar) in 2012. Smaaash took off in Mumbai and today has centres in Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

Comparing the two technologies, Ashok Cherian, Chief Marketing Officer, Smaaash India, said: “Augmented Reality enhances experiences by adding virtual components such as digital images, graphics, or sensations as a new layer of interaction with the real world. In contrast, virtual reality creates its own reality that is completely computer generated and driven.”

On Smaaash, Cherian said: “When it comes to Augmented Reality, we’re looking at something that has found more success in the consumer space compared to virtual reality. We’ve seen several applications with AR, along with video game and hardware devices. It is clear that AR has the potential to be a major turning point in the games that we develop at Smaaash and the Smaaash R&D department is working towards the same.”

Confident that the future of AR in India is very bright, Cherian said at first it would be felt in games, as the feeling of one’s presence changes first-person games immediately. “Once user interface issues start to be solved, other non-game applications will start using AR, but it will never replace the existing monitors. We expect India to take a lead in this technology in five years from now,” he added. In India, AR is already spreading via the craze for Pokemon Go, although officially the game has not even been launched in India.

“The virtual realm of PC console games is going to be home to all types of VR and AR games. Needless to say, playing games on a 2D screen probably doesn't do any justice nowadays,” said Cherian.

Gaming consoles

The advent of AR and VR has also impacted the most popular gaming consoles in the world — Xbox and Playstation.

Before Pokemon, Niantic also developed an AR game called Ingress, which gained positive reviews and huge popularity.

Another company to use this technology is Google, which created Google Glass, connecting to the wireless service on a user’s cell phone and generating responses when a user speaks, touches the frame or moves his/her head.