That’s the hope, at least, for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. He told CNBC that the hugely successful Pokemon Go app, which has millions of people chasing down monsters on real-world streets using their phones, is a phenomenon that spells good things for his company’s augmented-reality headset, the HoloLens.
“I think it’s fantastic to see these augmented-reality applications getting built, because the best thing that can happen when you’re creating a new category is for applications that are these killer apps, whether it be game or in the industrial scenario, to get invested in,” Nadella said.
Microsoft has already made a point of demonstrating the potential for gaming in augmented reality, with impressive HoloLens demonstrations that transform living rooms into combat zones and that bring the world of Minecraft to your coffee table.
Pokemon Go, meanwhile, has reinvigorated enthusiasm for Nintendo among both gamers and investors, even as it had developer Niantic Labs scrambling to address privacy concerns that the game unleashed.
Nadella was speaking alongside Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, who agreed that the Pokemon craze — just barely a week old — is a clear indicator of the potential for augmented reality to break through. Beyond gaming, both Immelt and Nadella expect augmented reality to have a transformative effect on industry in the coming years.
“I’m not a great gamer, so I can’t really say how much that’s worth — but the industrial applications of this are going to be billions of dollars of productivity,” Immelt said.