Pokémon Go may soon become the fastest growing mobile game of all time. In just over a week the game has nearly surpassed Twitter in monthly active users. By now, you’ve likely come across players in the streets searching for Pokemon in your neighborhood. Built on the back of the Pokemon brand and characters that we loved growing up, the app is sneakily pushing the future of mobile technology into the mainstream. That includes the kind of technology that, in just a few short years, will become the backbone of attendee engagement at your events.

Here’s how Pokémon Go is giving meeting planners a peek into the future of attendee engagement.

Pokémon Go is a Meetings App

Even if you’re not among the 250 Million Pokémon Go players in the US, you’ve probably read enough to know how the game works. For those of you that have just emerged from the rocks you live under, here’s a quick overview.

When you open the Pokémon Go app you’re presented with a map of the real world around you. The only way to move your character in the game is to physically move yourself. Yes, that means going outside. Through the lens of your phone screen, you’ll see virtual Pokemon scattered across the map. As you explore your neighborhood you can approach new Pokemon, catch them, and grow your collection.

Like most games, Pokémon Go is more fun with friends. When players find that a rare Pokemon can be caught in a certain location, they all congregate in that area. For instance dozens of people will come to the same spot in a city park, pull out their phones and scan the area to find and capture a Pikachu. At times, players have to collaborate in order to earn access to more Pokémon, you can’t do it all on your own.

As a result players start having real face to face interactions. They compare the Pokemon they’ve caught, share tips about the game, and potentially create lasting friendships. Sounds like a pretty successful networking event by any standard. Fundamentally the app accomplishes one thing that us meeting planners try to do every day. It creates a memorable experience that brings people with common interests together.

Imagine a multi-track educational conference where industry experts are presenting and sharing knowledge. Now imagine if it were possible to take the event outside of the venue. Attendees using location aware event apps, like Pokémon Go, could easily find speakers or external meetings most relevant to them anywhere within walking distance. It makes it possible for events to exist beyond four-walls of a meeting space. It’s a unique opportunity for speakers, suppliers and, event sponsors to target exactly the right attendees and extended the life of your meetings and events on the fly.

Making Augmented Reality Mainstream

Beyond location awareness, the second core technology that makes Pokémon Go possible is augmented reality. It’s a term that’s been around for over a decade but has only recently made its way into our smartphones. Augmented reality (AR) uses your phone camera to show you a graphical interface overtop of the world in front of you. It can add more context to what you’re seeing. Remember Google Glass?

In Pokémon Go it makes it possible for players to gaze through their phone screens and find Pokemon hidden in the streets around them. Looking for a flying Pokemon? Point your phone camera towards the sky. Trying to catch a small bug Pokemon? Aim your camera towards the ground.

Soon we’ll find the same technology in event apps. Attendees will be able to point their phones at specific items in an event venue in order to have more information appear in front of them. One example? Today, your speakers might use a slide deck as a visual aid for attendees. With AR those two-dimensional slides can become a 3D interactive experience that attendees can engage with right from their seats via smartphones.

Or, imagine bringing AR to attendee badges and passes. For decades badges haven’t gone beyond showing the attendees name, their organization and maybe their job title. AR can change all of that. Just hold your phone up to someone’s badge and instantly see an up to date Linkedin profile, and their latest posts on Social Media. As attendees learn more about each other, it’s easier to break the ice and start meaningful conversations. At first it might sound strange to hold up your phone camera up to a stranger’s badge, but is it any stranger than the idea of taking a selfie 10 years ago?

Pokémon Go is the first game to make AR widely available. In the context of the game, it makes the AR experience simple and friendly. As a result, you’ll see that an increasing number of attendees that are comfortable engaging with apps that take advantage of the technology.

Gamifying Your Events

Today, Pokémon Go can estimate your location, with near perfect accuracy (give or take a few feet). It knows the shops that you’re standing near, and can follow you as you walk, bike or drive down the road. In fact restaurants that happen to be near in-game hotpots are seeing a serious boost in traffic.

It’s happening because the game itself is so compelling. Fans are willing to go out of their way in order to earn in-game experience. The competitive aspect of the game is a huge motivator to get out of the house and explore. After all, you don’t want to be THAT person in your friend group with the fewest Pokemon.

As location awareness seeps into our event apps planners can also bring some friendly competition to events. Today, we spend hours developing interactive experience four our events, only to find that attendees are not engaging. Photo booths, art installations, swag, social media display boards, scavenger hunts. These are all creative ways to bring more engagement to our events, but it can be hard to encourage attendees to shake loose from the general sessions, lunches and networking receptions that they’re more comfortable with.

With the combination of beacon technology, and hyper location awareness you’ll be able to track how attendees are engaging at your events. Imagine a scenario where over the course of the event or trade show you can offer “experience points” to attendees that are engaging the most. It gives you a way to celebrate and reward the attendees that are already experiencing your event in full. When these influencers start demonstrating how they participate, their friends colleagues will follow suit.

What’s Next?

Pokémon Go brings location awareness and augmented reality to a game that’s easy to learn but super competitive and addicting. It’s the first mobile game of its size that’s taken players out of the house, and it sets the stage for more face to face interaction.

You probably won’t find your attendees running around your next event searching for a Charmander. However, Pokémon Go is setting the stage for the ways attendees will experience your event in just a few short years. In the same way that Twitter and Facebook popularized the first wave of interactivity with social media. Pokémon Go is part of a new wave of technology that ushers in the future of attendee engagement.

Are you playing Pokémon Go? What level are you on?