Pokémon Go Shows Promises and Dangers of Augmented Reality (AR) Technology

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It is difficult to describe Pokémon Go as anything but a complete and utter phenomenon that rivals and perhaps surpass the initial cultural impact made by the Pokémon franchise in the late 1990s. However, while the original game and cartoon series was a cultural fad, the new Pokémon Go game is popular because of the unique way the game implements and utilizes technology. While Pokémon Go is a game and a form of entertainment, it does provide a window into how augmented reality technologies may come to influence and affect our life. However, despite the usefulness of AR-enabled applications and technology, real dangers exist. Concerned about this game and an injury you suffered? Contact a Philadelphia product liability lawyer

What Is Augmented Reality and Pokémon Go?

While most people recognize that Pokémon Go is a smartphone game that can be played on Android and iOS devices, many people are unsure exactly how the app works. To start, it is important to understand a technology known as “augmented reality” or AR. Augmented reality is a technology that allows computer-generated content to supplement the real world. Essentially, a digital camera takes a video of the real world while the application overlays additional virtual content over the video. The content could include virtual avatars, information as part of a heads-up display (HUD), or otherwise, alter and enhance an individual’s perception of reality.

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In Pokémon Go, virtual Pokémon and game locations are superimposed in the real world via the Pokémon Go application on Android and iOS devices. Players of the game walk around the real world to find, capture, and collect Pokémon. Thus, players must remain mobile and walk or drive around their neighborhood or environment to play the game. The game can be played at any physical location and children and teens are likely to bring their Pokémon Go game wherever they may travel.  Therefore, don’t be surprised to see teens playing Pokémon Go on the family vacation to an amusement park, boardwalk, national park, or other location. Unfortunately, because Pokémon Go does require an individual to split his or her attention and differentiate between the real world and the virtual world, the risk of severe personal injury or death is present.

Wrongful Death and Injury Risks presented by AR Smart Phone Games

One doesn’t have to look hard to find dire warnings regarding the latest fad or trend. While warnings regarding a new fad or trend are anything but unexpected, the warnings about Pokémon Go are different. Here, we aren’t necessarily concerned about a video game “rotting a child’s brain,” but rather the game distracting the child or teen, encouraging the child to take foolish real world risks to achieve virtual goals and other physical dangers that can occur anytime a person is distracted and attempts to multitask.

The makers of the Pokémon Go app are well aware that the app can distract and cause severe injury. Every time a user launches the Pokémon Go Application it will display a warning that players must remain aware of their surroundings. The app also requires players to agree to a license agreement where players certify that they will not trespass onto private property. Unfortunately, it is unclear exactly how effective these warnings are.

Car Crash and Pedestrian Injury Risks of Pokémon Go

Consider the fact that just weeks following the game’s release, police departments across the country have been warning players of the game about unfortunate injuries and accidents. A recent tweet from the Texas A&M police reported that:

7/11-Traffic accident: Illegally parked car struck from behind (*Airbags deployed in the 2nd car). The 1st driver had exited to catch a Pokémon.

Another report from a mother in western Pennsylvania indicated that her fifteen-year-old daughter was hit by a car while playing the game. While details are still emerging, it appears that the girl was attempting to cross a busy highway while playing the game. She was hospitalized with injuries to her foot, collarbone, and additional cuts and bruises.

In New York, a man apparently wrapped his car around a tree while playing Pokémon Go and driving. The 28-year-old former marine admitted to “actively playing the ‘Pokémon Go’ game while driving causing him to become distracted and run off the roadway into a tree.” In news reports family members indicated that the driver said that he spotted a Pokémon known as Lapras. This momentarily distracted him and resulted in his car leaving the road and hitting a tree.

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Perhaps best summing up the risks presented by Pokémon Go, Reddit user Amalthea wrote:

“Not even 30 minutes after the release last night, I slipped and fell down a ditch. Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery. I told all the doctors I was walking my dog lol… Watch where you’re going, folks!”

Contact a Knowledgeable Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer For Help Today

Clearly, augmented reality games present new injury risks that people are still in the process of understanding. Unfortunately, many more injuries are likely to be suffered by players of Pokémon Go and other augmented reality games. Now that Pokemon Go is a smash hit and a cultural phenomenon, it is likely that a slew of imitators will soon offer similar experiences. Let’s hope that one of these games develops an innovative and effective means of reducing the likelihood of injury while playing. Speak with a Bucks County product liability attorney if you sustained a serious injury and think you have a case.

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