There's A New Augmented Reality App In Town

by Lily Feinn

During the height of the "Pokemon Go" obsession, we spent the summer of 2016 chasing adorable Pikachus dancing across our screens. Now, just as the weather is beginning to heat up yet, again retired Pokemon trainers can explore a new augmented reality game with one big difference: Real world prizes are on the line. So what is the "Seek" app and how exactly does it work? The brand new AR game available for both iOS and Android devices sends players on an exciting treasure hunt where they use a map of their surroundings to locate virtual chests and open them to collect the game coins and real prizes hidden inside. "Seek's" public beta ended in early March, and since then, it has gained quite a bit of traction on Twitter.

In a promo video released this week, "Seek" describes itself as a game that's healthy, social, and monetarily beneficial — a game that "pushes you to get off the couch and have amazing adventures with other people and win incredible prizes." The creators describe the app as comparable to "Pokemon Go," but without the sitting around waiting. The app's motto is "rewards through adventure," which they believe separates them from the other AR apps out there. Instead of going on a "search for digital animals," users look for something with "real value" (which is not to say that spending months filling up your Pokedex did not provide you with "real value" — if you enjoyed it, that's value enough, of course). While I enjoy e-gift cards as much as the next person, most of the charm of "Pokemon Go" for me was the cute creatures and the "gotta catch 'em all" attitude, so if you're a fan of that kawaii feel, the more straightforward "Seek" may not be for you.

Signing up for the game is free; simply register to create an account and the app will bring up a map of your area with numerous different "seek chests" nearby. Like "Pokemon Go," you have to leave the house to open the chests; with "Seek," however, you can use any mode of transport to reach it — be that a bike, car, bus, or your own two legs. When you approach the chest, the app uses your phone's camera to display the chest. You have to be between five to 10 feet away to open the chest through AR and retrieve the virtual coins and prizes inside. There are different levels of chests which determine the range and likelihood of prizes: Common chests, Rare chests, Epic chests, and Legendary chests. In order to open the higher level chests, coins are used in the app to buy keys. The more difficult to open the chest, the more lucrative the payout when you finally crack it.

Like "Pokemon Go," players must be willing to give the app access to their movements and phone camera, which may make some players a bit uncomfortable. What's more, while the app is free to download and play, "Seek" is looking to engage with brands by offering businesses the opportunity to place chests outside their stores or special events to attract customers and create buzz — so do with that what you will. "Seek" also partners with businesses by offering company's products and discounts as some of the prizes, with the promise that this provides reliable tracking of consumer interaction with said brand.

Sadly, there's always a trade off — you get prizes for free, but your interaction and interest in said prizes will be tracked. I guess nothing is really free these days — but, then again, prizes!