Data Science

What Pokémon has got to do with big data?

07th Oct `16, 05:49 PM in Data Science

Last weekend I went to the park to take my baby daughter for a walk, but I knew…

Matthew Reaney
Matthew Reaney Contributor
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Last weekend I went to the park to take my baby daughter for a walk, but I knew that it would be a walk with an extra level of intrigue above the usual cooing, dribbling, and occasional uncontrollable bawling. No, on the previous day I downloaded PokémonGo onto my phone, and although I am far “too busy” to be “down with the kids” I was curious enough to see what all this augmented reality fuss was about.

I wasn’t particularly keen on Pokémon as a child, and I was wondering how it could possibly be so addictive. So (and you all know the story here by now) I started playing…. Do you know, it was a revelation, and not only from a gaming point of view. I could suddenly see the future of Big Data, and it was immersive and immediate.

Two important factors with Big Data are relevance and size. You will only gain quality insights if there is a relevant audience engaging in a relevant activity in a comparable way. The problem with much of Big Data is that it is mostly historical, and much of this “relevant” information is lost. Are we really comparing apples with apples? Was the environment the same in the spring as it was in the summer? What different factors were able to influence the result? Questions, questions.

For me, the millions of people around the world playing Pokémon last weekend (and crashing their servers on a regular basis) showed me a glimpse of the future. There may well be an opportunity for real-time Big Data. Let me give you an idea of what might be:

Let’s say that there is a mad, crazy popular online experience in the future (such as Pokémon). It has 80% of the adult population hooked, and, as with Pokémon, it is built on tracking your exact location. It would be free for mass participation, would involve keeping the app on all the time, and as “quid-pro-quo”, you would allow the makers to share your data with selected (and announced) partners. Would you mind your local shopping centre understanding how you shop, which shops you visited and how much time you spent eating your lunch? Probably not I’d say. This information isn’t a problem for you to share, but it would be a goldmine for a planner of shopping centres.

Real-time Big Data is the holy grail for Data Science, and when there is participation at the levels of the Pokémon game, there are so many behavioural insights out there waiting for us. I’m afraid that I’m a mere recruiter for Big Data pros, but I am sure that there are meetings being held in the across the Globe, right now, to see what augmented reality holds in store for the future of data collection and analysis.

This article is just scratching the surface, but the fact is indisputable: When people are engaged, they are happy to engage. All the people spending their money on extra Pokéballs last weekend at the park are a testimony to that.

Originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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