Patent mentions 'real world carriers' as trade locations
Pokémon GO was one of the biggest successes of the year, and even though it'll never get back to the heights of popularity it began with, it's still getting regular updates. Niantic has said for quite a while that it's been working on some features players expect from Pokémon games, including one-on-one battles and trading.
A patent filed with the United States patent office may shed some light on how the latter function might work. It details a "System and method for transporting virtual objects in a parallel reality game." The patent was filed in March of 2015 by Niantic founder John Hanke and several other Google employees, prior to the spinoff that created Niantic.
The patent mentions that transporting virtual objects through the virtual world can be linked to the location of "real world carriers," for example buses, airplanes, trains, ferries and the like. In the example given, the patent says that "a player can transfer a virtual object to the virtual counterpart of a real world carrier in a first location. The real world carrier can then travel from the first location to a second location and the virtual object can be transported through the virtual world based upon data associated with the location of the real world carrier. The second player can then receive transfer of the virtual object at the destination." The patent theorizes that the transportation could be linked to the timetable these real world carriers follow, so if a bus is delayed, that might slow down the transfer of the virtual item.
PatentYogi.com was the website that first dug the information out of the patent database, and they made a short video showing what they think Pokémon transfers using this method might look like:
It sounds like this may be the way Pokémon GO handles trading in a future update. You may need to visit a bus stop, airport or train station to initiate a trade with another player, and if your trade is accepted, it could take some time to process, based on the real-world movements of a public transport. None of this will necessarily make it into Pokémon GO, but Niantic does hold the patent, so it's not out of the question.
Pokemon Trading in Real Life [PatentYogi.com]