Everyone is still pretty mesmerized by Pokémon Go, the mobile game that leverages the world’s love for imaginary beast enslavement. One alleged enterprising hacker seems to have gotten the game to play on the massive touchscreen of his Tesla Model S. I’m inclined to call bullshit on this one. Update: And I was right.
The hacker, Jeff, who’s an editor at an obscure women’s entertainment and lifestyle blog called Pink Java Media, claims to be using the Tesla’s GPS and rear back-up camera to play Pokémon Go. The story on the Pink Java site is remarkably short on details, mentioning only that the hack was achieved with:
“With a little bit of luck, some old-fashioned ingenuity, and an ethernet cable, Jeff was able to get Pokemon GO up and running on his Tesla.”
There’s some pictures as well, and one animated GIF of the game in action:
Aside from the questionable value of playing a game designed for a tiny computer you hold in your hand on a 4500 pound car, the idea of playing Pokémon Go on the Tesla is at least technically feasible. The Tesla’s huge center touchscreen is based on a version of Linux, as is the Android phone OS, so the Pokémon Go app at least has a chance of running on that platform.
Most car infotainment systems, like Ford’s SYNC, for example, run on the QNX OS, which has no chance of running Pokémon Go without a pretty significant re-write.
But there’s a lot that looks off here. First, look at the angle of the shot from that rear-view camera. What rear-view camera points that far down, right at the curb? Are Tesla owners primarily concerned with not running over ants and beetles?
Also, a camera anchored to the earth by 4500 lbs of Tesla should most likely not do this:
Watch the curb: see it move? Like it would move if, say, that screen footage was recorded from a normal phone or tablet, held by a human hand instead of mounted into a car body? I know Tesla’s had some quality control issues, but I doubt their cameras are dangling by some wires.
Plus, here’s an actual shot of what a Tesla reverse camera sees:
There’s some bumper visible in the shot, the aspect ratio is different, and, hell, it’s using a wide-angle lens. This is not the camera view shown in that attempted Rattata abduction up there.
There’s also no video to back this all up, and that seems like kind of a no-brainer. We sent emails requesting more information to Pink Java Media, but they were not returned; a phone number listed on their site goes to a voicemail box for a business with a different name.
If Jeff has actual proof that this is real, I welcome him to provide it.
So, while I acknowledge that playing Pokémon Go on a Tesla center console is at least technically possible—it’s a computer, after all, and it can run programs, and it has the basic hardware you need, so yes, I’m sure a really determined hacker could somehow make it happen—I don’t think that’s what happened here.
Now, I don’t think Jeff of PinkJava did anything more than a good bit of video editing and masking around his moving hand over the screen. Sorry, everyone who thought this was cool, like our sweet, gullible pals at Business Insider. You guys want to believe so hard, and I pray you never lose that. It’s beautiful.
Besides, this Pokémon Go is a fad, anyway, people. Just port MAME over to the Tesla center stack and play something with real, lasting appeal, like Galaga. Use the steering wheel and pedals to play. That’s a way better use of your time.
UPDATE: Yep, it’s a hoax. We got this reply to our email:
Thanks for reaching out, I am the founder of PinkJava.
I have to be honest the Pokemon story got a little out of hand. When we came up with the idea it was more as a tongue-in-cheek article to see if our readers would start discussing if this could be real or not, especially after Elon Musk answered a fan’s question if you could catch Pokemon with the autopilot Tesla.
Anyways, I kind of regret doing this story, but lesson learned here.
I apologize for the confusion.
Ramon van Meer
Don’t feel bad, Ramon. I love a good videogame hoax.