Augmented Reality: overlaying digital elements on top of our surroundings.

Pokemon Go is not a fad, it’s been a long time in the making. Go is currently surpassing searches for “porn” and “Donald Trump” on the internet, it has more active users than Twitter. If your church isn’t paying attention, now would be the time. To by fair, countless churches have caught on, providing hospitality for players that are wondering into their territory. I approve.

Caught my first Pokemon in church last week. Shhh, don't tell my pastor.

Caught my first Pokemon in church last week. Shhh, don’t tell my pastor.

Go utilizes the concept of Augmented Reality (AR) by overlapping it’s play elements on top of our actual world. Kids (and adults) who prefer the comforts of air conditioning are now scouring the streets to capture Pokemon. I personally ran into about 20 Go players last night in my little town. Augmented reality has been around for a long time. Think of a guided audio tour at a museum. The technology however, has gotten a lot more sophisticated, and indeed there have been a lot more sophisticated representations of AR than Go. Go only takes advantage of two of a dozen expressions of the technology: video overlay and geographic information systems (think GPS). Google Glass was a much more ambitious project and Niantic’s (the Pokemon Go creator) earlier game “Ingress” was a lot more advanced. Neither of these had the cultural clout that Pokemon holds with two generations of humans, world wide. Regardless, Go has opened the way for creative new expressions of AR.

When AR and Virtual Reality (VR) team up the real magic will happen. This was the promise of Google Glass, it was just slightly ahead of its time.  Imagine sitting down in a pew at Pentecost and seeing head to toe banners of flame that subtly flicker with the reverberating sounds in the sanctuary. Ooooo, Aaaaaaah. Imagine getting rid of the projector and instead projecting the words in the middle of each persons field of vision, allowing them to look any direction they want to. Imagine your small group being magically transported to a meadow in Kells as you talk about Celtic Christianity. The possibilities are endless and I’m certain the Spirit will be present.

The question is, what can we do to be proactive with this technology and not reactive? Pokemon Go is certainly relevant, the kind of relevant the church could use these days.

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