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Pokémon Go gets a wearable AR demo, but there's a catch

Pokemon GO Professor with Pikachu and Mew
(Image credit: Niantic)

Pokémon Go fans were given a treat during the Microsoft Ignite 2021 event in the form of a demo for an immersive augmented reality Pokémon experience. But even if you own a HoloLens 2 you won’t be able to play it.

As explained by Niantic CEO John Hanke while he explored a real-world space surrounded by wild Pokémon with his partner Pikachu - this proof-of-concept merely “offers an early glimpse into the future evolutions in both software and hardware.”

Niantic - which is no stranger to both augmented and virtual reality with games like Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite - has teamed up with Microsoft to work with its new Microsoft Mesh AR platform. We may see something like this demo headed our way in the future, then, but we just might have to wait several years first. 

The Pokémon Go AR demo video

As captured in the video above, the demo sees John Hanke showing off what Pokémon Go could look like on the HoloLens 2 or a similar device. Wild Pokémon roam open spaces like they do in the TV show and mainline video games, and players can play with their partner Pokémon by interacting with a controllerless interface. 

 What is the future of AR gaming?

This Pokémon Go demo is exactly what many expect to be the future of AR gaming. Unlike VR - virtual reality as is seen with the Oculus Quest 2 and Valve Index - AR, or augmented reality, doesn’t look to create a whole new world but instead builds off the one around us and adds to it.

In the case of Pokémon Go, this is introducing virtual critters into the environment. Other applications we've seen include being able to add information centers to real-world landmarks or letting users craft digital objects with their hands.

But if you thought VR was expensive, AR devices are in another league with the HoloLens 2 costing $3,500 (about £2,600 or AU$4,900) and Apple’s upcoming AR lens rumored to sell for anywhere from $500 to $5,000.

Over time we’ll hopefully see these wearable AR prices drop, letting us regular folk try out immersive AR for ourselves. Until then we’ll have to settle for Pokémon Go on our smartphones.

Hamish Hector

Hamish is a Staff Writer for TechRadar, having previously written for the site and Gfinity Esports as a freelance writer. He has been writing about tech and gaming for multiple years, and now lends his experience to cover news and reviews across everything on TechRadar (from Computing to Audio to Gaming and the rest). In his free time, you’ll likely find Hamish humming show tunes while building Lego or playing D&D with his mates.