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Augmented Reality Broke My iPhone!

Augmented Reality Broke My iPhone!
by Daniel Nenni on 08-04-2017 at 12:00 pm

As a semiconductor professional I am always looking for the “next big thing” that will spur growth in our industry. Mobile, IoT, Automotive, and AI are the current leaders we closely track on SemiWiki.com. Last year I delved into augmented reality via the Pokemon Go game and after a solid year of research (yes I finished the game) here is my report.

To be clear: Augmented Reality (AR) integrates a physical real-world view into a software application. In Pokemon Go’s case it uses the camera and overlays the game onto your surroundings. Even more important, Pokemon Go is a geolocation game that tracks your every move, provides a street map (via Google maps), and integrates other local information into your game. PokeStops for example are based on real places such as businesses (all Starbucks have PokeStops or PokeGyms), historical landmarks, places of interest, etc…

The first thing you will do when you play Pokemon Go is turn off the camera option because it is annoying and completely unnecessary. I can certainly see applications where this would work but not with a game where your screen represents what you can see directly in front of you. The second thing you will do is turn of the music and sound effects because they are mind numbing, especially since you have to play this game for hours and hours to get anywhere.

The two big draws for this game are nostalgia for millennials who grew up on Pokemon and the social activity aspect. I have four children and suffered through years of PokeCards, PokeCostumes, and those horrible PokeCartoons. My whole family started playing Pokemon Go when it launched last July but have all quit, except for me, due to the time commitment required. My kids are full grown, have jobs, and are working on kids of their own. The social activity is the outdoor time (exercise) and the people you meet. Yes it is easy to spot Pokemon players and once you start seeing familiar faces a conversation is sure to follow. People of all ages play this game, some people go solo (like me) and some pair up with friends, parents, or spouses.

Now to my stats, over the last year I walked/biked 3,392km (which is North of 2,000 miles), total experience points (xp) of 20,664,463, and just last week I made it to level 40 which is the last level of the game. I had a minor advantage in that my local park has a 1km track that includes 24 PokeStops and 3 PokeGyms. The town I live in is also PokeRich with 39 gyms and 100+ PokeStops. I travel quite a bit so I played Pokemon all over the world and that was an experience in itself. Pokemon is played quite differently in other parts of the world especially Asia where they ride scooters instead of walk.

It may be interesting to note that, no matter where I go, of the three team colors blue is by far the most popular then red then yellow.

The good news: Pokemon Go engaged my mind and was an added incentive for my morning walks and afternoon bike rides. It was also fun meeting people and observing the different social aspects around the world. I have a competitive streak and enjoyed destroying the gyms and was the first person in my area to hit level 40. Pokemon Go is very data plan efficient with most everything running on the phone itself. You can tell because the phone literally heats up if you are power playing.

The bad news:Pokemon Go absolutely destroyed my iPhone battery. I had a 16GB iPhone 6 when I started last July. It was two years old so I did not think much of it when the battery would not hold a charge more than an hour or so. I got an external charger and was good to PokeGo. In December of last year I bought a new 32GB iPhone 6s and the same thing happened. Today my battery will last at most two hours unless I play Pokemon Go then it is less than one hour. Seriously, you can watch the battery drain in real time while you play. Before you start saying how Apple sucks, the same thing happened to Android phones according to other PokePeople.

Worse news: Pokemon Go is also full of cheaters! Why people need to cheat at a game like this is beyond me. It really is a sad social commentary. They use software spoofing hacks and multiple accounts to gain advantages at the gyms and to get all of the Pokemon without leaving the basement of their parents house. For a company that made a billion dollars in its first year, Niantic (the Pokemon Company) seems to not care about cheating at all. In fact, their customer service is nonexistent so if cheaters bother you don’t play the game. Personally I enjoyed battling against the cheaters but that is just me.

Bottom line: AR apps are just starting out and have a ways to go but I do see value and believe that they will be one of the next big things for semiconductors. From what I am told, Apple’s next iPhone will be much more AR capable and that trend will continue with faster SoCs, custom silicon (AI/AR specific chips), more memory, and hopefully better batteries. Apple also released an ARKit to help developers with new apps. It is in Apple’s best interest to keep people on their phones and AR will definitely help, absolutely.

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