What if you could play Pokémon Go without holding a phone? And what if you could battle alongside your friends, no matter where they are in the world? That's something we got a taste of at the Microsoft Ignite conference today, as Niantic CEO John Hanke demoed what the game could be like on the HoloLens 2 AR headset. But getting to that device wasn't the only leap — the demo was also powered by Microsoft's Mesh platform, an easy way for developers to create their own collaborative virtual spaces. Instead of just being a solution for remote work meetings, the Pokémon Go demo shows us how Mesh could also reshape how we socialize and play remotely.
The demo was just a proof of concept, not something actually running on HoloLens 2, but it's a sign of what's to come. While wearing the headset, Hanke strolled through a park and encountered a wild Pikachu. He opened his palm — typically where HoloLens apps place their menus — highlighted a strawberry, and fed it. As he walked around, he could see other wild Pokémon strolling about. The demo ended just as he encountered a colleague, who challenged him to battle. Even though this was a rough demonstration, it would have been nice to have a closer look at what an actual fight would look like.