Evaluating a Socialization and Companionship Augmented Reality System

Yi-Fan Chen
Experience Design MFA candidate
Miami University

Augmented reality (AR) systems have been designed and studies for over 20 years. With smartphones and wearable information and communication technologies (ICT) are ubiquitous, mobile augmented reality systems (MARS) open various opportunities for users to experience and interact with virtual information at physical locations. A MARS, Pokémon Go, become a global phenomenon since it launched in summer of 2016. The MARS users utilize the system to keep healthy, make connections with other people and keep them company in everyday life. Pokémon Go could be seen as the first normalizing AR for the masses.

An observation study was conducted for over six months at cities and a college town in Southeast Ohio to understand Pokémon Go users’ attitudes and behavior patterns toward to the MARS. Domestication Approach advanced by Roger Silverstone and Leslie Haddon is used to provide guidelines and directions for collecting data. The approach explains the process in which the use of technology becomes an integrated part of everyday life (Haddon, 2003; Silverstone, Hirsch, & Morley, 2005).

Preliminary results show that Pokémon Go users’ utilize the MARS into their daily life. When the MARS users are doing their daily activities, such as strolling, walking, running, biking and taking public transportations, they have their MARS on. They use the MARS to fulfill their socialization and companionship needs. For example, parents and grandparents are taking young children to catch wild Pokémon. Friends are making plans to catch Pokémon together. The MARS users are sharing the Pokémon information at PokeStops as well as online Facebook group pages with their networks and with strangers.  While the MARS was successfully designed with “exercise,” “to see the world with new eyes,” and “breaking the ice” between users (Weinberger, 2016), other design limitations, such as weather limitations, also found in the study.

Design suggestions and implications will be further addressed.

Haddon, L. (2003). Domestication and mobile telephony. In J. E. Katz (ed.) Machines That Become Us (pp. 43 -55). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

Silverstone, R., Hirsch, E., & Morley, D. (1992). Information and communication technologies and the moral economy of the household. In R. Silverstone & E. Hirsch (Eds.), Consuming Technologies: Media and Information in Domestic Space (pp. 9-17). London UK: Routledge.

Weinberger, M. (2016, July 11). The CEO behind ‘Pokémon Go’ explains why it’s become such a phenomenon. Business Insider. Retrieved from http:// www.businessinsider.com/pokemon-go-niantic-john-hanke-interview-2016-7

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 3.3: Kent State University on Saturday, March 11, 2017.