Sunday, March 18, 2012

See History through GPS and Augmented Reality


Imagine walking down a boulevard on your vacation or even in your home town. You see a building with a sign saying it was built in the 1800s, so you pull out your smartphone, launch an app and point the screen at the building. Instead of the building infront of you, you see a photograph of the street and the building facade, showing what it looked like 75 years ago along with historical information on the building. Well, with the app Pivot, that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do.

Using GPS and augmented reality, Pivot is designed to act almost like a time capsule, allowing users to peer into the past and learn significant and interesting facts about historical locations. Using geotagged images and GPS technology, the app will allow users to pull up images of sites and allow users to peek into the past. This isn’t the first app to do this, but it’s still a cool idea and a neat way to use GPS technology.

The project was successfully funded on Kickstarter last month, and developers are working on the app right now. At launch, the app is going to focus mostly on Historic Palestine (Palestine/Israel) and sites around Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Eventually, the team has plans to expand the project to various sites around the world.

According to the website, Pivot’s goal is to “streamline digital cultural preservation in areas where cultures and histories are at risk of being lost, areas with with tourism potential, or areas with diminished tourism sectors throughout the world.” Most of the pictures will be taken from open source data and online archives, and eventually the team plans to allow customers to submit their own historical photos—essentially crowdsourcing history.

At launch the app will mostly focus on Palestine so it is probably not going to be quite as relevant for most readers, but eventually the app will also include historical sites around the globe. There isn’t really a specific launch date specified on the website or Kickstarter, but those interested can sign up for beta testing on the Pivot site.

Here’s a video from the developers explaining better how the app will work:

Would you use an app like this? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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