Nexus Studios Launches Hotstepper, The World's First Virtual Wayfinding App
To coincide with the opening with their new U.S office in Los Angeles, Nexus Studios have launched HotStepper, the world’s first Augmented Reality character based wayfinding app. Enter an address anywhere in the world and Hotstepper will guide you there, walking the real world streets as you follow. Combining the very latest in AR, geo-location and mapping technology, HotStepper features a somewhat eccentric character who will (when he’s not too busy dancing) attempt to guide you to wherever you need to go.
The Interactive Arts team at Nexus Studios built a bespoke system that uses a combination of GPS coordinates, your phone's compass and vector in real-world space (accelerometer) and mapping data in order to calculate your location and render HotStepper as your virtual wayfinding buddy.
Bringing HotStepper to life from a visual perspective was an equally innovative process. HotStepper was animated in Virtual Reality through VLO, an intuitive and collaborative VR animation tool that Nexus Studios will be releasing to market soon. The team developed a new suite of tools to ensure HotStepper looks as good as possible in any chosen environment. In real-time, the camera feed is essentially reflected onto HotStepper giving him a live reflection of his / your environment. The app also programmatically makes a calculation about where the sun is in relation to HotStepper himself to be able to render the direction of his shadow specific to your current location and time.
HotStepper is a real-time character who uses your phone's data to connect himself to a pretty vast amount of live information. In order to try and illustrate the future storytelling possibilities of using AR and location data, watch out for one particular feature when you walk past or near a hair salon when HotStepper’s haircut will magically transform into a variety of new styles.
Nexus Studios Head of Interactive Arts Luke Ritchie notes: “HotStepper is part of a series of research projects we’re doing into storytelling using real-world data. We’re super excited to be exploring this new frontier and with HotStepper we’ve combined multiple innovations to bring to life a playful dude creating a fun way to get somewhere. The HotStepper has a complex steering algorithm that uses different types of data to keep him on the path and walking in the right direction. It’s only as good as the GPS data though so absolutely use your common sense when perhaps it appears he hasn’t! ”
Hotstepper is available for IOS (Android coming soon) on the app store.
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