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Brother AiRScouter: Plug and play with Pokemon GO

Dan Robinson, Marketing Executive, Brother UK. (@DanRobinsonBUK)

The App by Niantic, that’s become a Global phenomenon, combines GPS tracking, Augmented reality and nostalgic gaming into one smartphone game, attracting millions of players trying to “Catch em’ all”. The location based game uses real-world landmarks with which players can interact within a certain proximity, whilst capturing Pokemon in the wild. 

Despite inspiring people to explore local areas, socialise and do more exercise, the game has also raised legitimate safety issues due to people’s reduced awareness of their surroundings whilst operating their smartphones on the move. This issue can be helped with the use of wearable tech, increasing spatial awareness and therefore reducing the risk of harm to the player.

The AiRScouter’s plug and play HDMI input allows for connectivity with TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones without additional software or configuration, making integration incredibly simple. Designed to work comfortably in a range of environments, its headband and flexi-arm positions content within the user’s peripheral vision meaning they can benefit from hands-free HD visual display.

We took to the streets of Manchester to trial the Head mounted display with Pokemon GO

Set-up

  • We arrived Mid-Monday morning at Piccadilly gardens – there’s 5 Pokestops* in a small area here – lots of people gather to play and there’s lures** running practically 24/7
  • I got the latest iOS update and opened the app (iPhone 6s)
  • Putting on the AiRScouter - There’s a wire from the headband to the control box, into which you also plug-in your HDMI cable. This then connects to your smartphone via a HDMI/lightning adapter– the wires weren’t an issue gathered in my back pack but you could also easily tuck them in your pocket
  • The padded head band is comfortable and sits forward on the top of your head – it’s very light so you soon forget it’s there
  • The flexi-arm makes the eye-piece easy to position before your face – I chose to position the lens over my left eye. 

App display

  • With the eye-piece in place, the 1280x720 resolution HD display clearly projected my phone screen right to my peripheral vision. There’s also a half mirror lens available to make the display more transparent if required.
  • Although it took a moment for my eye sight to adjust, it was surprisingly easy to continue to focus on my path ahead, whilst being able to view the display in my peripheral vision
  • Whilst walking down the street, it was great to be able to see the map without looking down at my phone, I could check-in to Pokestops without looking too (although it takes a few trys getting used to a touch screen without looking).
  • On the move, the display is perfect for spotting wild Pokemon when they appear and means you don’t need the sound effects to alert you.
  • The display made it easier to track the map without the possibility of bumping into anything or anyone, making it safe to march down busy Market Street.
  • During an engagement with a Pokemon (pokeball throwing) the AR (Augmented Reality) kicks in, which is quite strange with the AiRScouter as you have augmented video display of an augmented camera view, so you need to make sure you’re facing in the same direction as your phone. For this reason I turned off the AR at that point (saves battery too).
  • Another issue here is the difficulty of accurately swiping your touch screen without looking - for this reason it’s better to look down at your phone when swiping pokeballs to capture Pokemon.
  • One thing the AiRScouter set-up is perfect for is the Gym battles – seeing as you can tap any part of the screen to attack there’s no need not look down to your phone unless you wish to switch pokemon. 

*Pokestop – checkpoints which act as a cache for in-game consumables such as Pokeballs, eggs and potions.

**Lure Module – can be applied to a Pokestop to increase Pokemon spawn rates for 30 mins

Pros

  • Increased spatial awareness
  • Easier navigationInstant alerts
  • Great for gym battles

Cons

  • Using phone’s touch screen without looking
  • Double augmentation
  • Phone/head mount must face in the same direction

Looking ahead:

It’s safe to say that Pokemon GO will continue to strike a chord with players the world over, with improvements and updates such as trading and new Pokemon promised by Niantic for the near future. Also coming soon is “Pokemon Go Plus”, a wearable device connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth for alerts and Pokestop check-ins – This, in conjunction with AiRScouter, could mean an almost completely hands free experience.

The AiRScouter WD-200B is the second generation of the device developed by Brother in Japan, with plans in place to continually develop and improve on the design and functionality with each new model. With the rise of AR and VR (Virtual reality) headsets in the next few years, we’re sure to see similar applications for Pokemon GO, and I, for one, am excited to see where it takes us.

For more information visit our AiRScouter page.