From gamification to exploration, Ross Healy takes a look at how augmented reality could transform our world

Imagine walking through a significant moment in history, for example watching Einstein develop his theory of relativity as if it is happening right at that moment. Imagine being able to interact with that moment in history.

Well, now you can thanks to the development of Augmented Reality (AR). Nowhere is this more exciting than in the world of video gaming. Nintendo and mobile development studio Niantic is releasing its AR mobile game, Pokemon Go, next month.

Not only is this an exciting time to be a Pokemon gamer, it’s also a stirring look into the future of gaming and how it can influence the way we engage with the world around us.

Experience ‘living history’

Of course, AR isn’t new. At Telstra we’ve used AR (via the Viewa App) for consumer marketing campaigns and Mini Cooper tested AR glasses to enhance the driving experience. Similarly, gamification isn’t new, but the two together present an exciting opportunity.

The functionality of AR games can be applied to a range of different business sectors, revolutionising the way we learn, explore and experience our cities.

Imagine walking down the main street of your city, holding your phone. Digital arrows highlight points of interest and places where key historical events took place, rich media, such as popup photos, text, video, or audio, transforming your experience.

Players are rewarded for their curiosity by meeting certain goals like a particular amount of steps taken while using the app, collaborating with other users to solve in-game puzzles —and that’s just the beginning.

AR apps will merge the classroom with real world learning, encouraging students to become more active and explore the world around them.

Tourism, gamified

The benefits don’t just touch locals, either. The possibility for tourism is endless. Towns could gamify their city for travellers, turning tasks into rewards with frequent incentives.

Imagine a future where your holiday includes levelling up, where exploration is encouraged and points are rewarded when uncovering hidden secrets.

Apps like these could eliminate the need for a tour guide, as your phone could take you step by step through a city, learning as you go at your own pace.

Remember, Pokemon Go is just the beginning: it is now up to tourism departments, universities, schools and businesses to develop apps that help us learn more about what the world has to offer in new and exciting ways. I know I’m excited. Are you?