The ridiculously successful Pokémon Go may let players bag a Bulbasaur, but what if you want to nab a Napoleon? Moscow City Hall is taking cues from Nintendo's augmented reality mobile hit for its own geolocation app, which lets players "catch" historical figures like Napoleon, Tchaikovsky and Ivan the Terrible, and snap selfies with them.
The app, known by the awkward moniker of "Get To Know Moscow. Photo," was first released a few months ago, with a focus on learning history rather than critter-collecting. Players could roam the streets of the city searching for digital characters, whose locations were marked in the physical world with signs. As far as history apps go, it's a nice idea, but those signs tended to vanish or be vandalized.
An update, due by the end of August, makes the app function a little more like Pokemon Go. A list of historical figures, such as cosmonaut Yury Gagarin, rocker Viktor Tsoi and tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, appear along with their distance from the user's current position. Without signs to give away their hiding spots, players will need to navigate to the figures using an in-app compass. Once they're within 50 m (164 ft) of the geotagged location, the character will be visible in AR through the smartphone camera, where users can rotate 360 degrees, zoom in and out, and of course, snap selfies with them.
The Moscow City Government's Department of Information and Technology says that the app is designed to highlight the rich cultural heritage of the Russian capital. Given how good Pokémon Go is at getting its players to explore parts of their cities they never had before, the app might just work in letting more people "Get to Know Moscow."