Pokémon GO! has put on the table something that seemed forgotten: augmented reality . With so much virtual mandanga, about the revolution and the future advent of VR glasses, we have forgotten that there is a functional technology, with more than two decades old and great recreational capabilities, as Project Tango with Lenovo has shown..
Surely some reader remembers the Word Lens, an application that translated any text on the fly by passing it through the camera of our Android terminal. This was augmented reality applied to practical life . Or the famous Invizimals, born from Novarama Technology, a Barcelona company that started with a team of 7 people at Pompeu Fabra University back in 2002, and that achieved what the current Pokémon GO! consuming very few resources.
So where has Augmented Reality been all this time? In front of our noses . Launching projects of greater or lesser depth but always interesting ideas..
ToyWheel: the virtual toy for the little ones
ToyWheel is not comparable to Pokémon GO !, but it is a great starting point. Recommended especially for 6-year-olds, it contains only two levels, where you can create your own circuit and overcome different obstacles and, finally, put the “physical” possibilities of augmented reality to the test. And then you can print the circuits, place them on a surface and play, both in the virtual world and in the real one .
Similar to the popular EyePet, the 40-square-meter virtual floor pet, or the Wonderbook line, augmented reality flirtations have been going on for more years than we imagine. By the way, you can download ToyWheel directly from here, totally free..
Ingress: the older brother
What Pokémon GO! and Ingress share a motto is no coincidence. Niantic created this social video game in 2013, and the truth is that its success was real. It didn't become the monstrous Pokémon phenomenon but it did build on the vast database that Nintendo's game uses to create its gyms and stalls.
Its gameplay is simple: capture areas while defending them from the opposing team and solve a series of mysteries. But we also have to discover some secret artifacts, which give an extra power to the team. A kind of “capture the flag” with portals to other territories —Ingress's history progresses as we play— and many good ideas that did not finish to materialize in terms of popularity. You can still download it from here.
Zombies, Run !: run for your life
This game also encourages sport. We will say more: it demands it. It is a world invaded by zombies, so to survive in clean areas we will have to go jogging . And in the meantime, collect supplies, equip ourselves with gear to deal with threats, and unlock daily quests to level up. An adrenaline-pumping and addictive game from which its own community has created a good handful of fan films and even some “literature”.
Night Terrors: fighting primal fears
I'll confess one thing: if you have a hard time with found-footage-style horror movies or mockumentary, maybe you should avoid this game. Turn the screen of our smartphone into a real horror scene.
Night Terrors is a wicked and absorbing proposal like few others : any setting through which we move will become the set where a virtual director places specters and stories of terrible deaths. A game that started as a small project on indiegogo and that aspires to be one of the most realistic exhibits on Augmented Reality.
Clandestine Anomaly: Patrolling the City
In this game we take on the role of a universal savior, something like Will Smith in Independence Day: an alien invasion is looming over Earth and there is no time to lose. The truth is that as an Augmented Reality experience it is quite satisfactory, especially the larger the smartphone screen .
Our role is not limited to planting defensive and offensive tactics, we also have to designate resources to build a community, go to real points to defend structures from other players or, for the laziest, play only from home and try to survive the enemy waves . What, in classical terms, we could define as a real-time strategy game for mobile platforms . In free download from here.
Temple Treasure Hunt Game: the hero of the temple
This game is a change in style that suits the genre especially well. We are a kind of Nathan Drake, an adventurous treasure hunter, and we must find hidden artifacts in temples . The whole game revolves around bonuses and obtaining relics. In addition, it allows cooperative play. You can download it from here and try your luck solving puzzles.
Geocaching: international trade
Let's go with one of the most popular games on the list, another treasure hunting adventure but with another point of view. Our mission is to find objects in real containers around the world and trade with them. Yes, real world objects. A way to create synergies between players who share their own adventures and to encourage geocatching , which could be translated as obtaining objects through geolocation . In free download from here.
Parallel Kingdom: Small-Scale Role Playing
The veteran MMORPG by PerBlue places its setting in a bygone age, of kings and servants. This massively multiplayer is the closest thing to a World of Warcraft on your mobile phone. It offers chat rooms, its own clans, 40 experience levels and hundreds of different enemies to hunt down, with the particularity of placing the core of the action in our street map. You can download it from here.
And, with the same mechanical parameters but set in a steampunk universe , PerBlue created Parallel Mafia, a game where you fight, trade and acquire skills but with that characteristic tone, less magical and more technical.
The Walk: health is the most important
And finally we have the most recent on the list. Much has been made of how Pokémon GO! It ludifies the simple act of going for a run, turning what is initially somewhat uncomfortable into a game. Doing sports without thinking about it, without counting heartbeats, calories and even without looking at the traffic light — be careful with that.
The Walk takes fitness gamification in its most literal sense . And there is a lot of experience behind it: it has been created by the same team from Zombies, Run !. By adding meters of travel, we unlock songs and other things, but the key is in its plot, which is gradually unveiled and where we are the bearers of something important but which is never made explicit to us. You better find out for yourself.
Six to Start is also known for another hooligan version of home exercise - 7 Minute Superhero Workout - but if this The Walk has caught your attention, you can download it from here.
The thousand applications of Tango
As we explained in this article, the possibilities of Project Tango are almost endless. Thanks to Augmented Reality, you can gamify everyday activities and turn your phone into a real console. In Trash Collector From Space, for example, we will have to load up on enemy ships that are leaving the house, while cleaning interstellar space of junk. In Paintball Gladiators, the traditional paint battle takes place in a virtual space.
Although we also have video games to use: eradicate areas infested with zombies with Zombie Gunship Reality and put our shooting systems to the test with Tango Blaster. We can even satisfy our creative appetite with Tango Constructor, a 3D scenery modeler. And of course Woorld, the playful sandbox from the creators of Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, ideal for children to learn to use pop-up tools and AR.
We also have Phantogeist, the game from Trixi Studios where you have to shoot ghostly alien creatures and Raise, where 3D creatures are your pets. Tango promises a busy few months next fall, when the Phab 2 Pro smartphone goes on sale. For now, some demos about its functions can already be tested from here: https://developers.google.com/tango/demos