"The whole purpose of Niantic is to basically invent apps that are designed for the mobile experience and for the coming wearable computing experience to help people get more out of the real world when they're out," said Niantic's John Hanke. "In the case of Ingress, a whole game has been created to make it fun in a different way."
As a video game fan and father of three, Hanke said he was conflicted about how stationary video and computer games are. The idea for Ingress formed when he was commuting back and forth to his old job, overseeing Google Maps and Google Earth.
"I was watching what was happening with mobile phones, and I thought, you know, there's an opportunity to take this addictive quality of video games and to marry it with mobile and break through the downside of games that they're sedentary," Hanke said.
On the Ingress Google+ page, you can find fans who've reworked their own daily commutes to allow for a little play time.
"We have grandmothers playing and we have 6-year-olds playing," Hanke said. "Walking and getting fresh air and getting that hit of adrenaline is a fun experience. A lot of people are busy and have forgotten the pleasure of that. The game has given people an excuse to walk a little bit and see their town. We're piggy-backing on the basic pleasure of being outside and exercising."
We may soon see more apps that want to derail you rather than simply plot your usual path, thanks to advancements in mobile tech.
"With wearable computing and things that you wear on your body, whether that's a bracelet that's tracking your steps or your exercise, or a watch that has your information on it, I think the hardware is evolving to things that are much more suited to using while you're out and on the move," Hanke said.
"The cellphone is a good intermediate step, but in the next few years I think we're going to see devices emerge that fit this idea of really moving with apps and apps that really help you when you're physically engaged and active."