Polaxis is a story about a paranoid time traveller who writes about all his strange experiences in his private journal. All his conspiracy theories and secret information, he hides away in a layer of Augmented Reality which can be accessed via the comic books accompanying iOS app. The comic is a great example of how technology can be used to enrich a narrative and in this case the AR goes perfectly with the overall concept and truly compliments the story.
Polaxis has been a long running project between Julapy and interactive comic book artist Sutu. It has been through a number of different manifestations but the central motif has always remained the same, the idea that a static image can be animated to life and reveal a hidden layer of a secret narrative.
The very first experiments used projections to light up and animate static images pasted onto walls. For this Julapy developed an application which could scan a wall for a recognisable image and projection-map an animation over the top in a matter of seconds. The initial system was bulky and not very portable consisting of a laptop, DSLR camera and running image recognition using OpenSURF. At the time, image recognition technologies were emerging on mobile devices in the form of AR (augmented reality) such as Qualcomm’s Vuforia and could track an image at interactive frame rates, so the whole setup suddenly shrunk down to a single mobile device. As well as lurking through dark laneways and doing paste-up-projections, Julapy and Sutu began experimenting with AR animations using their Boomcore framework which allowed Sutu to create and play Flash animations as AR content over his illustrations. It wasn’t long until the tech was solid and Sutu could create his first AR comic.