This past week's release of the smartphone gamified reality app "Pokemon Go" heralds the beginning of a new phase of the smartphone surveillance era. Billed as an "augmented reality" game the app uses in game incentives to direct users to physically visit locations that they would not otherwise. The app has already lead to a teenager discovering a dead body in a location she would have not otherwise visited.
In addition to directing users to physical locations the app encourages users to enable their smartphone's camera so that they may see pokemon "appear" in the real world. This active scanning of the real world by app users presents far greater potential for image collection than the typical social media app which relies on the user's vanity to get them to use their smartphone's camera.
It almost makes the app's requirement to turn on the smartphone's location services, one that will likely snare low intelligence "criminals", seem mundane.
Pokemon Go was preceeded by an alternate reality game called Ingress also developed by Pokemon Go creator Niantic. Ingress however lacked tie ins to any popular media franchises1 which would have delivered a ready made user base in the manner Pokemon Go has. Peace in our time!
Deepening the rabbit hole is Nintendo's long refusal to allow media properties they have a stake in to run on devices that aren't also sold by Nintendo. ↩