Pokémon invade reality in a demo for Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headset

It was only a matter of time before someone created a playable Pokémon game for Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset. This is the very reason why Microsoft has no clue when a retail version of HoloLens will hit the market, given that developers are still testing the augmented reality waters. This specific game, PokéLens, is nowhere complete, but it’s now served up on GitHub for anyone to contribute their HoloLens skills to the project.

For the uninitiated, Microsoft’s HoloLens mixes virtual with reality, displaying holograms in the wearer’s view so that they appear to exist in the real world. The headset also includes a number of sensors allowing wearers to physically move around a stationary hologram and interact with virtual objects with the touch of a finger. However, the HoloLens headset costs $3,000 and is meant for developers. Microsoft will use Windows 10 Creators Update and the embedded Windows Holographic platform to address the consumer market in 2017.

In the meantime, PokéLens is shaping up to be the Pokémon game fans wanted with Pokémon Go. Right now, the demo only offers a battle between two Pokémon creatures. For instance, the user could be walking along in the park and approach Pidgey hovering just above the ground. The user can then tap two fingers together to initiate a battle, choose one of the Pokéballs floating off to the left with a simple glance, tap the fingers together again to grab the ball, and tap a third time to conjure up its contained Pokémon.

What’s neat is that HoloLens users can physically walk around the battle. To use one of the Pokémon’s moves, the user taps two fingers together on the Pokémon in play (Pikachu in this case) to pull up a semi-transparent panel containing Quick Attack, Thunder Shock, Iron Tail, Growl, Pokéball (for capturing Pidgey), and Switch (for changing Pokémon during battle). The two Pokémon will duke it out, hitting each other with their special skills until one of them faints.

The project is incredible, to say the least, and will likely have Nintendo breathing down the backs of PokéLens’ creators. The 3D renditions of Nintendo’s Pokémon are spot-on and the AR-based game even uses the music heard in the classic Pokémon game. Whether PokéLens will progress beyond mere battles is anyone’s guess at the moment. Still, the more people that pour into the project, the more authentic the game will get until Nintendo pulls the plug.

The Readme file provided on GitHub clearly states the current demo for PokéLens is a fan-made prototype for now. GitHub provides everything HoloLens users need to jump into the project, including the files required for Microsoft’s UWP platform, all the assets, the Unity libraries, and more.

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