So, shooting straight, wearable tech isn’t doing all that great. A handful of fitness trackers have carved out a niche for themselves, and the Apple Watch is maybe (or maybe not, hard to say) doing alright, but smartwatches in general are languishing and a lot of those fitness trackers end up in junk drawers. In steps a savior — a wearable wristband that lights up when there is a Pokémon in your area. This is the killer wearable app we’ve been waiting for.
Some background: Pokémon Go is a mobile game for Android and iOS coming out in July, and it’s Nintendo’s most significant foray into mobile gaming yet since they got started with Miitomo (although it’s worth mentioning that Nintendo is not making the game, but has licensed the name out to Niantic, the developers working on Go). The game makes you the Pokémon master, with wild Pokémon appearing in the real world that you can battle and catch. That’s done with augmented reality — using the app, you’ll get alerts when there’s a Pokémon nearby. Point your phone’s camera where the Pokémon is, and you’ll see it and get a chance capture it.
Problem is, trying to catch Pokémon is going to be the most distracting thing ever. If you thought people are on their phones way too much these days, just wait until you come across someone trying to catch an Abra in Pokémon Go. Productivity will grind to a halt, and there may be some slight macroeconomic consequences. That’s why Nintendo is going to sell the Pokémon Go Plus, a wearable they just announced this week at E3 2016. It’s a device that looks like a cross between a Pokéball and a Google Maps pin, and it’ll light up when a Pokémon is nearby. At this point, you have the option of pressing a button on the device to attempt a capture blind, but you’re probably not going to want to deal with the dozens of Rattata and Pidgeys you’re going to end up with by doing that. Instead, you can use Plus as a notification wristband, then whip out your phone and see which Pokémon is actually there before attempting a capture.
When Pokémon Go comes out next month, players will be able to capture Pokémon, then trade, hunt for items hidden in the real world using augmented reality, and battle other players at Pokémon gyms, which will actually correspond to real locations around the globe. Battling won’t be like it is in Pokémon games — there’s a simple, timing-based swipe mechanic to dodge attacks — but the allure of being a gym master will be too great for many to resist. As for the Pokémon Go Plus, it can be preordered soon on Amazon for $35 and should be out sometime in late July. It can be attached to an included fabric wristband or worn as a clip.