The phenomenal success of Pokemon Go promises to bring substantial value to shareholders in Niantic, the application’s marketer. But there’s another phenomenon that’s keeping pace with the growth of Pokemon Go, according to safety officials—the number of injuries caused or suffered by people caught up in the “augmented reality” application.
For the uninitiated, Pokemon Go is an application for your smart phone that uses the phone’s GPS capabilities to help you locate and “capture” virtual reality creatures with names like Charmanders, Pikachus and Bulbasaurs. These creatures are virtually located throughout a geographic area. So if you see people wandering through a park or shopping center with their eyes glued to a handheld device, it’s a distinct possibility they are playing Pokemon Go.
Thus far, there are few built-in measures to ensure the safety of users. Niantic has issued a new version of the game that requires a user to hit a button that says “I’m a passenger,” designed to keep people from playing the game while behind the wheel of a car. However, it’s entirely on an honor system. There’s nothing to prevent a driver from hitting the button and cruising the streets glued to the smart phone screen.
The litany of injuries continues to rise. Less than an hour after the game’s initial release, a player in Washington, DC broke his foot falling into a ditch. A motorist in Baltimore side-swiped a police car and another in Massachusetts caused a multi-car crash on the freeway there when chasing a Pikachu. Though neither boy was hurt, two teenagers were shot at in Florida while playing the game, when a frightened homeowner mistook them for burglars.
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