Japanese iPhone users happy to be shown around by “Uncle AR“, the grooviest wayfinder app guide ever.

You have to feel sorry for postmen and postwomen in Japan. Except for the biggest roads, most streets lack a street name. It isn’t much help for tourists or others trying to get somewhere either. Thankfully when I first came to Japan there were already phones with map software, otherwise I would have spent far more of my time wandering around lost, tired and afraid. But the default lady’s voice of most car navigation systems or phone apps, in both English and Japanese versions, doesn’t make for great company, especially when she informs you that you’ve missed your turn, something that you’re quite aware of, thank you very much. Now, Japanese phone users have fallen in love with an app where a groovy grandad with a purple beard takes you to your destination using augmented reality, similar to the technology behind Pokémon GO.


With Nexus Studio’s wayfinding application for iOS, HotStepper, this chap will hop, step and jive his way to the location of your choice using the camera and the location services on your phone to walk along just in front of you, beckoning you as you go. The application even takes things like the position of the sun into account in order to accurately render your guide’s shadow, and he will do neat tricks like changing his hair style if you walk past a barber shop. You will also be able to use the application with AR (augmented reality) glasses so that you don’t need to focus on your camera screen as you walk, something that may have you falling into things, or even being shoved.

Japanese netizens have fallen in love with the idea, although some had some concerns:

“Huh, isn’t that a red light?”
“That would be so great for people with no sense of direction!”
“He’s a bit fat for someone who’s always walking.”
“That would make walking fun even when you’re on your own!”
“He just ignores oncoming cars, lol.”

▼ While he seems to get on well enough on the streets of London and Los Angeles, it’ll be interesting to see how he manages at the infamous Shibuya scramble crossing in Tokyo.


If you have no sense of direction, get lonely easily, like to dance as you walk, or have a fondness for scantily-clad, chubby men with purple beards, then the HotStepper app might be for you. Just be careful how you go.

Source: Twitter/@appmarkelabo via jin115
Featured image: Instagram/nexusstudios