Stop the word presses for the one-half billion people on planet earth who have downloaded Pokémon Go, folks. Niantic Labs, the software developer for the Pokémon Go smartphone app announced the launch date for the digital map pin shaped Pokémon Go Plus smart wristband wearable – it’s this Friday, September 16, 2016.
Very seldom does an English language catchword so appropriately match a new wearables product category as does the word “gizmo” match the new Pokémon Go Plus. This is some sort of new category of wearable, not a smartwatch, not a fitness tracker, not a social media notification bracelet, but truly a “gizmo”. Perhaps we are to call it a game activity bracelet – a bit more like the Ringly than not, except that you don’t get social media vibration and colored flashing LED light alerts, you’re alerted to Pokémon Go game activity related to catching your fair share of the Pokémon “pocket monsters” on the augmented reality enhanced version of the classic Nintendo GameBoy platform role-playing (RPG) videogame now available for your smartphone via the Pokémon Go version.
Wearing the Pokémon Go Plus on your wrist and connecting it via Bluetooth 4.0 to your iPhone or Android smartphone enables you to be notified by vibration and flashes of LED lighted plastic buttons when an activity of interest occurs on your Pokémon Go map app. The end game of this peripheral gizmo for your smartphone is that it allows you to catch a Pokémon without needing to dig into your purse or pocket or backpack, attaché case, or lunchpail to grab your smartphone to catch a Pokémon or get game alerts about a nearby Pokestop where you can buy Pokémon Eggs and more PokéBall ammunition for your hunting/walking expeditions.
The clever design of this gizmo enables you to detach the map pin shaped plastic wearable from its wristband mothership so that you can easily attach the plastic alert device on your choice of clothing of the day – think shirt pocket, blouse, jacket, sports T-shirt, etc. You can even use the Plus device to throw PokéBalls at your intended pocket monster target.
Whether on your wrist or pocket, blouse, jacket, or athletic wear lapel, when you’re near a Pokémon, you can respond to the device vibration and flashing alert by throwing a PokéBall to catch one of those cute lil’ pocket monsters. However, the Plus device does not enable you to catch a Pokémon that you have not already caught before using your smartphone’s Pokémon Go app. Once caught, the Plus gizmo vibrates to alert you to your successful capture.
With this limited set of functions, a wristband developed exclusively for one and only one purpose, it would be easy for many wearables tech aficionados to brush it off as a superfluous accessory. On the plus side, pun intended, aren’t there plenty of times when you’re walking or hiking of running or working out when you’d like a slightly entertaining little diversion you’re your daily walk step number 9,784 or your workout rep number 34 on the abs machine? Well, that’s pretty much one of the main sales pitches by Niantic Labs for this device – an entertaining diversion during activities when and where your smartphone is not in a handsfree situation. That’s the adult side of the Pokémon Go Plus equation. The elementary design of the Plus device means a natural appeal for children on the go.
Any way you slice it, this lil’ gizmo is an entirely new category of wearable tech. Who woulda’ thunk that we’d have single purpose “peripherals” this soon in the technology evolution curve of the wearables tech industry? Kudos to Niantic Labs and the Pokémon Company for introducing this device for the Pokéverse.
Everyone else shoulda, coulda, woulda.
To the innovator go the spoils! Be glad for the galactic members of the Pokéverse – for now they need not be whipping out new batteries for their smartphone several times a day just to play their fave game.
The Pokémon Company and Niantic, the software developer of the Go version, have yet to release firm online or retail channel outlets for general availability of this gizmo, so check your favorite retail channel this Friday. Please do keep in mind that the Pokémon Company and its software development partner, Niantic Labs, announced that Pokémon Go will be available on the Apple Watch Series 2 that was announced last week and will be generally available soon. If and how the Pokémon Go Plus will be compatible with the Apple Watch Series 2, the latter of which now has GPS tech, is a matter for Niantic Labs to clear up for the public this Friday.
The MSRP for this new wearables category gizmo, the Pokémon Go Plus smart wristband is widely rumored to be around USD35.