With millions of downloads since its launch a few weeks ago, Pokemon Go has quickly become a popular exercise tool as players around the world head outdoors to battle at gyms and catch roving pocket monsters.
But a few tech-savvy hackers appear to have found a way to circumvent one of the game’s core requirements – the need to go outside – with a unique use of hardware.
The method, which has been widely shared in a new YouTube video, appears to show players locking a smartphone in a box that blocks radio frequencies. They then use a special signal generator and a joystick to manually control the device’s GPS using custom software.
The result: a player can kick back and virtually “stroll” around town without ever leaving home.
But it’s fairly unlikely that armchair PokeMasters will overtake the game. The method involves some fairly pricey and hard-to-find hardware; for instance, a radio-frequency-blocking shield box can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. And, even if a person could afford the necessary devices, they’d need some serious programming chops to set up the hack.
There’s also the possibility that the new method could get busted. Pokemon Go uses a phone’s pedometer and GPS to measure distance travelled, and the joystick method doesn’t involve any physical steps.
It’s not the first time Pokemon Go players have tried to find a way to stay indoors and play. Some players have hired other people to walk around and level up for them, and at least one user reportedly strapped his phone to a drone and soared around town, Pidgey-style.