Historypin app lets people create a "time machine"

Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:57am EDT
 
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By Natasha Baker

BANGKOK (Reuters) - For people who have stood at a monument or scanned a landscape -- the Great Wall of China, for instance, or the U.S. Grand Canyon -- and wondered how it looked 100 or more years ago, there is now an app for you.

Historypin, on iOS and Android platforms, strives to create a collection of memories about locations by counting on people to dig up and digitize old photographs and other media of the places, along with personal recollections of the past.

Combined with modern pictures and memories, the app creates a story of a place for people to enjoy -- a sort of "time machine in your pocket," its backers say.

"It's about people coming together to create a web of human history," said Nick Stanhope, chief executive of We Are What We Do, a United Kingdom-based non-profit organization responsible for the Historypin project.

The app uses GPS to find content that has been added within a certain vicinity. Users can also browse content that has been uploaded at any location on the map. The results can be filtered by date, ranging from the 1840s (the time of the earliest photographs) leading up to the present day.

The app also includes an augmented-reality camera that overlays historic images in the database on top of the current landscape. Over 55,000 photos and stories have been pinned to the map since the website and app were introduced.

One photo from 1938 shows a car being tugged across Newfoundland, Canada's Placentia Gut by two small wooden boats, a method that was retired as soon as a bridge was built to provide a more efficient route.

Another from the late 1920s shows a mother and daughter in Minnesota enjoying a laugh in front of a local school and its now defunct bell and tower.   Continued...