To coincide with the opening of its new US office in Los Angeles, Nexus Studios launched HotStepper, the world’s first augmented reality character-based wayfinding app. 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. “There were a lot of technical challenges to overcome to make our character feel present with you on the street,” reveals Alex Jenkins, creative director at Nexus Studios in London. “We made full use of the just launched ARKit to get away from tracking markers, combined with geolocation and mapping technologies to keep the HotStepper walking alongside you.” Enabling the team to push storytelling, technology and interaction into a new place, unique moments are triggered in realtime to ‘live change’ the character or story, such as his hairstyle when you walk past a hairdresser. “We use the term ‘location based storytelling’, we’re very excited about its future potential,” states Jenkins.
01 HotStepper in-app photo designed by Nexus Studios. 02 The HotStepper character was deliberately made to be comical. 03 HotStepper character design development.