May 21, 2010

iPhone app lets you peer into London’s past

by Darren Allan

Sightseers enjoying the famous streets and attractions of London will be able to take a glimpse into the city’s distant past using a new iPhone app.

The Streetmuseum app, which is available for free to iPhone 3G and 3GS owners, will offer a range of snaps from the 20th Century, all the way back to the 17th Century.

The app uses a technology which has been dubbed “augmented reality”. This employs the iPhone’s GPS capabilities and camera to recognise a landmark, and then display a historical image of it on the smartphone’s screen.

Tourists can then hold their iPhone up to the scene in question, and see what it looked like in the olden days (TM).

We’re talking black and white images of Carnaby Street as was, Buckingham Palace at the turn of the Twentieth Century and bombed buildings from World War II.

Or even older scenes from the 17th Century such as the Thames being frozen solid, and the Great Fire of London. (They really didn’t know what to expect in those days).

There are hundreds of images provided, and some blurb accompanies the pictures, so you can learn a little about the places and landmarks in question, as well as merely gawping at them.

Streetmuseum is certainly a very novel idea, and we expect it won’t be the last app to use this augmented reality approach.

In fact, you could do a similar thing with faces on Apple’s tablet, then strap your iPad around your head and walk around looking twenty years younger. Or maybe not.

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