It might seem like a lifetime ago now, but it’s less than five years since the entire world went crazy for ‘Pokemon Go.’ Most of our readers who are over thirty will remember the ‘first wave’ of ‘Pokemon’ popularity during the 1990s when they were at school, but four years ago the Japanese cartoon and video game series came back in a big way thanks to augmented reality. Wherever you went in big cities and towns, you’d come across people staring into their phone screens and trying to ‘catch’ Pokemon characters in just about every real-world location imaginable.
The popularity of the game became something of a societal problem, as people became so obsessed with it, they stopped paying attention to the real world around them. Players were so intent on chasing the characters around on their screens that they failed to take into account that they were walking into traffic, or causing damage to properties as they trespassed into or across them. One hotly-contested estimate claims the cost of the damage caused by ‘Pokemon Go’ players in the United States alone within the first year of its release was more than seven billion dollars. The public’s enthusiasm for the game has cooled since its 2016 release, but there are still a few players around today. Now, thanks to the launch of a new ‘Pokemon’ product, you might be about to see Pikachu and his friends more regularly again – but this time in a safer environment.
The ‘Pokemon Go’ craze was the first large-scale use of augmented reality in video gaming and entertainment, and was briefly expected to become the launching point for a whole new era of AR games, where players would engage with virtual characters in real-world environments. That hasn’t quite happened yet. Indeed, it might turn out to be online slots players who become accustomed to AR sooner than the rest of the gaming world does. AR has obvious potential for Jumpman casino and casino websites because it could allow people to play poker at their own kitchen table, or place a slots cabinet right in front of them and bring a whole new meaning to ‘online slots.’ Gambling companies are investing heavily in tests and trials of the technology at the moment, but the rest of the gaming world appears to have taken a step back. While the conventional gaming world might be a little reluctant to commit to the idea of proceeding any further with AR at this stage, it seems that the tech might have a role to play in education and early child development.
A few days ago, the company responsible for ‘Pokemon’ announced that they were launching a brand new app called ‘Pokemon Smile,’ which is intended to help to both teach and persuade young people to brush their teeth. Anyone who has or has had young children will be familiar with the tantrums that sometimes come when an infant is ordered to clean their teeth, so anything that might make that process more bearable for both toddlers and adults ought to be welcomed. ‘Pokemon Smile’ might turn out to be the perfect solution. That’s because when children play the augmented reality game, they’re not really “brushing their teeth.” They’re saving their Pokemon friends from bacteria that cause cavities.
There are two aspects to the game – one of which is purely for entertainment, and the other of which should (hopefully) see your child pick up a toothbrush and clean their own teeth without having to be pushed into doing so by anybody else. In the ‘game mode’ of ‘Pokemon Smile,’ children brush the teeth of Pokemon characters to keep the bacteria at bay. The game reinforces the importance of this, and also shows the consequences of not brushing teeth if the bacteria are allowed to stay in place and spread. Once all of the virtual bacteria has been brushed away, the young players are allowed to ‘catch’ the Pokemon character they just cleaned the teeth of and store them in much the same way that they would if they were playing ‘Pokemon Go.’
Once young players have got their heads around that idea, the selfie camera can then be turned on to project an image of a Pokemon character onto the child’s own head, which stays there as they brush their own teeth. A representation of their teeth is displayed at the bottom of the screen, and the more they brush, the happier their virtual Pokemon companion becomes. While the game obviously can’t make an accurate assessment of how effective or thorough the player’s toothbrushing skills are, it tries to ensure that they continue brushing their teeth long enough for the process to be effective. Again, if they clear away all of the bacteria on the virtual set of teeth, they’re rewarded by the addition of a new ‘Pokemon’ character. This might not be a guarantee that your children will suddenly fall in love with the idea of keeping their teeth clean, but it might help them along the way.
This isn’t the first time that Pokemon characters have attempted to get involved in healthy living initiatives. A little over a year ago, the company behind the characters and the games launched ‘Pokemon Sleep,’ which is a sleep-tracking app designed to help ensure that your child (and you as well, if such things interest you) get a healthy night’s sleep. The applications for that app weren’t as obvious as ‘Pokemon Smile,’ and so far, it hasn’t caught on as a download. If ‘Pokemon Smile’ is successful, though, it might be the case that people decide to check out the older app after finding that the new one is useful. Both apps are available for a single payment from your phone’s app store, with no further purchases required or requested inside the app.
If you’ve tried everything else you can think of in terms of coaching your young ones to brush their teeth, this might not be a bad idea to try. Alternatively, if you’re a big ‘Pokemon’ fan but have no children of your own, there’s nothing to stop you downloading it and playing along with it yourself. Adults still have to brush their teeth, so there’s no reason they can’t still have a little fun while doing so!