Using augmented reality in a navigation app seems contradictory at first. Shouldn’t you watch the road while navigating?
Luke Ritchie, Executive Producer at Nexus Studios and his team turned that assumption on its head by creating HotStepper—a character-driven, wayfinding app that uses AR to project a (two-stepping) guide to help users navigate. The app, equally quirky and useful, brings users a unique and fun way to get where they need to go, while experimenting with the possibilities of augmented reality.
Needless to say, the app nabbed the 2018 Webby Award for Best Use of GPS or Location Technology in Mobile Sites & Apps.
We talked with Luke about creating the app, what excites them about the future of AR, and more.
Why did you choose to use Augmented Reality for this navigation app?
The easiest way to get somewhere is to follow someone who knows where they’re going. We created “character-based way-finding” as an example of how we could fundamentally change how we navigate outdoors and indoors with ease.
How did your team go about choosing the right character as HotStepper’s tour guide?
What was the biggest challenge with creating this app?
The steering algorithm was the biggest challenge; how to improve the accuracy of GPS with only software enhancements. In the future we’ll have visual positioning for a high degree of accuracy, but for now to make HotStepper feel like he’s leading you somewhere and “act” like he knows where the sidewalk and road begin and end was a huge challenge.
In the end we used data “hacks” to optimize the accuracy, focusing on what the data tells us you might be doing naturally—like for example, slowing down your walk may imply you’re getting close to a corner.