With the rising popularity of Pokemon Go, an augmented reality app utilizing GPS and other sensors in your phone, people tend to forget that geocaching and other GPS-based apps have been around far longer than the inception of Pokemon Go.
Takara, meaning treasure in Japanese, is one of those apps. Developed by ManelDuck, who also developed SaruTobi, a game that rewarded players with Bitcoin, Takara is a geocaching app with a Bitcoin twist.
With the ability to link with breadwallet to receive Bitcoin, as well as the option to connect to an IndieSquare wallet to collect tokens, such as Spells of Genesis cards, GEMZ, SHUMAI, and many others. Takara works by allowing users the ability to drop a cache anywhere. There is a minimum drop of at least 2000 Bits required, as well as the ability to add a question that only users can answer at the location of the drop off to thwart GPS spoofing. Collecting the treasure is as simple as going to the site, answering any questions that may be present, and then collecting the treasure.
In my part of Alabama, there was only one remotely close location I could use to test the actual motions of answering a question and collecting the treasure. The app has a feature where at the very top it will state how many feet you are away from the closest geocache. For me, the closest dropped Bitcoin was 114,602.2 feet away with 4000 Bits.
Translating to about a 70-mile round trip, the destination ended up being the entrance to a hiking trail. With a no parking sign prominently displayed on the closed off the entrance, I was looking to pick up the Takara as quickly as possible.
With the hint “number on the little silver plate below”, it required me to do some searching for the sign; there were many signs and the silver plate was the smallest of the bunch.
Elated once I found the number, the app performed as expected. Entering the eight character answer correctly resulted in 4000 Bits (minus transaction fee, exact amount was around 3800 Bits) promptly appearing in my breadwallet.
I intend to pay the proceeds forward, placing two Takara drop offs in areas with a higher density of people, perhaps near the Birmingham International Airport as well as the capital of our state, Montgomery. Luckily, I only have to tap where I would like to create a new Takara drop off; I do not have to be physically in that location.
As the app’s user base increases, it is expected that more Bitcoin (and tokens!) will be dropped in more locations. Takara has the potential to becoming a viable and entertaining modern twist on the age-old excursion of geocaching.
I had the opportunity to the lead developer on the ManelDuck team, Christian Moss.
What inspired you to create this app?
“Initially, I was motivated by using gamification as a way for new users to get a small amount of bitcoin and increase adoption.”
What are you most excited about in regards to your app’s potential?
“Currently, I am excited about the concept of blockchain assets, Takara allows the user to drop these in the form of counterparty tokens, and these tokens can then be used in games as items or at stores as coupons or rewards points.”
Why do you think Bitcoin will revolutionize geocaching?
“I am so sure that Bitcoin by itself will revolutionize gaming, there is a probably a limit to the number of bitcoin that would be potential dropped by users.
I am much more excited by the prospect of geocaching blockchain assets and game items. This will allow users to collect assets in real life and use it inside their game.
For example, there have been some Spells of Genesis cards dropped and collected in Takara.”
All in all, the app performed well in regards to GPS tracking, with no crashes or incidents of sluggish performance. The only feature that is lacking and which could significantly improve users experience in the pursuit of treasure would be the ability to tap on a drop-off and receive coordinates to it.
In this situation, for example, I had to route my GPS to a nearby park and then had to eyeball the remaining 1 mile. The app allowed me to select the “pick up” function when I was within 100 feet or so of the drop-off. While the lack of Takara drop offs is disappointing, this is not the fault of the app itself.
After reviewing all aspects of the app and experiencing all that it has to offer, I am left with a mostly positive impression besides the concern about no coordinates voiced above. On top of the recreational applications this will have, I am excited to see how businesses could cleverly implement Takara to increase their footfall.
Takara has been available on iOS since January 20, 2016, and ManelDuck is diligent about releasing timely updates to fix any bugs or issues that may arise. Unfortunately, Takara is an iOS-exclusive for the time being, and the Android alternative, Coinplanter, hasn’t been updated since 2014 with and lacks an integrated map in the app. No plans have been released for an Android counterpart for Takara.
With an ever increasing stream of applications tethering to properties of Bitcoin to enhance their operations such as the Brave Browser, Megaupload, and the YOURS Network, will a geotagging game based around Bitcoin such as Takara be part of a wave of new ‘killer applications’?