It may seem like everyone is playing “Pokemon Go,” but some people can’t even if they want to.
Poke-fans with physical disabilities say the smartphone game, which requires a lot of movement in the real world, simply isn’t accessible, writer Cecilia D’Anastasio explained earlier this month in a must-read piece on Kotaku.
But a new robot may give those people an interesting way to experience the game. Let’s Robot, a four-person startup in Berkeley, California, is hammering away at a prototype that’s capable of playing the game with input from human players. The group published a video to YouTube Monday showing a very rough proof of concept.
“The video I posted was like the first time we actually got the hardware hooked up and programmed,” Jillian Ogle, an independent video game developer who heads the group, told The Huffington Post in a phone interview Tuesday.
The robot in the video doesn’t look like much. It has six wheels, and it uses a simple “plotter” to interact with a smartphone’s touchscreen.
“At that stage, we hadn’t even programmed any preset moves or anything, and the motors are moving super-slow because it’s in a safe mode,” Ogle explained. “They can go quite a bit faster, but we’re going to have to come up with an even faster solution for flicking.”
Capturing monsters in the game requires you to “flick” your finger across the screen to throw a “Poke Ball.” The robot isn’t up to the task in this video, but Ogle said it’ll get there.
The overall goal ― as with many of Let’s Robot’s projects ― is to present an interactive livestream on Twitch. People will be able to tune in, watch the robot wheel around and issue commands to determine how it plays the game.
“People who don’t have access to go around and play ‘Pokemon Go’ can at least have some experience with this robot and be able to participate with everyone else,” Ogle said.
It won’t be a replacement for the full experience. Group-play efforts like “Twitch Plays Pokemon,” an event where humans banded together to play the original Game Boy game, tend to be a bit chaotic, with thousands of people issuing commands at once.
Still, if you want a fresh look at the world’s biggest game, you could certainly do worse. Just ask these guys.