New Android App Brings History To City Streets
A new Droid application gives pedestrians a historical view of their surroundings. NY1’s Adam Balkin filed the following report.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
Developers at Columbia University constructed a massive, wearable augmented reality system back in 2000 that allowed individuals to overlay old images in the real world. It showed what places looked like 20, 50, even 100 or so years ago.
Now it’s possible to do all of that with a phone in the pocket rather than a big contraption on the back.
“HistoryPin” was developed by the not-for-profit company We Are What We Do in partnership with Google. Using the GPS in phones, it pulls up historical pictures taken nearby along with stories to go along with those pictures.
“Via the map, you can explore street by street, you can let the location-aware tours follow you around, take you to the closest pictures, tell you how far away you are from them,” says Nick Stanhope of HistoryPin.com. “Then, when you get to one, you can find the full screen picture, find the stories attached to it, then you can overlay on to your camera view get a really nice comparison between then and now, fade your camera view and the old picture.”
But the content doesn’t come exclusively from developers.
“What's nice about HistoryPin is it combines that archival collections with user generated content, so we've had a year of testing and in that year, we got about 50,000 pieces of content, around half of which are from archives — about 100 different partners, New York Public Library, Boston Museum,” says Stanhope.
Users can also check out places that have been mapped and lined up on HistoryPin.com. The website even has some video it'll overlay onto today's views of streets, a feature developers say will soon make its way into the app.
At the moment, the app is available for Android phones only, and it's free. The plan is for an iPhone version to launch within the next few weeks.