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Pokémon GO Smartphone App Starts Field Test in Japan This Month

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Niantic Labs, The Pokémon Company plan to release AR smartphone app this year

Niantic Labs announced on Thursday that it will begin inviting users in Japan to field test its and The Pokémon Company's Pokémon GO smartphone app this month. The company added that it will announce more information in the future about field tests in other countries.

Those who live in Japan and would like to participate in the field test can apply on Niantic Labs' website.

Niantic Labs and The Pokémon Company revealed the augmented reality smartphone app last September. Niantic has raised US$20 million from The Pokémon Company, Nintendo, and Google for the game, and the three investors will give Niantic another US$10 million upon meeting unspecified performance goals.

Players will use the app to be able to find Pokémon in the real world using location-based technology. Nintendo also hopes to let players pay attention to their surroundings instead of just looking at their screens by offering the "Pokémon Go Plus" wristband device. The device can also be used as a clip to be clipped onto suit jackets, etc. The "Pokémon Go Plus" device will have LED and vibration functions that will alert players to something happening in the game. The device uses Bluetooth technology to connect to players' smartphones. Players can still play the game without the device.

Pokémon GO will be available in 2016 for Android phones and iPhones. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the original Pokémon games.

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