Maybe you’ve noticed an uptick in the number of people walking around your city or town while staring at their phones. Well, Niantic CEO John Hanke is sorry about that and is looking forward to a time where that is less common.
Pokémon Go is one of the world’s most popular games, and Niantic is responsible for its creation. At the GamesBeat 2016 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Hanke explained that his team built the game so people can explore the world. And, like many of the game’s critics, he wants people to look up and see the world around them. That’s why he can’t wait for the Pokémon Go Plus peripheral that you can wear to get notifications about Pokémon Go without having to constantly stare at your phone.
“I’m looking forward to the launch of the Pokémon Go Plus,” Hanke said. “That will give players the chance to play the game without looking at their phone all the time. They’ll get to look at the world around them.”
Hanke started Niantic in Google around the idea of adding discovery and exercise to gaming. During his fireside chat, he mentioned a desire to give players a way to learn about their cities in a new way. And that’s happening with Pokémon Go, but he acknowledges that players also can’t help but check their phones every three seconds for new pocket monsters.
This led him to speculate about the potential for new augmented reality devices. Hanke said that phones will always provide a great platform for AR software that mixes digital images with the real world, but he also wants something more sci-fi.
“I want the contact lenses that turn the world into whatever I want it to be,” he said. “That’s probably going to get created in our lifetime, and I’m looking forward to it. When we started Niantic, Android Watch and Google Glass were underway at Google. I see a progression of wearables that get more sleek and sexy over time. It’s not binary where you don’t have AR one day and then do have it the next.”
I did not get the chance to ask Hanke if my future of catching a Mewtwo would be binary, but I’m still on the lookout.