Although sometimes we wish it could be different, time travel is still impossible. However, innovators are finding ways to use the latest technology to help us immerse ourselves in history so realistically, that it can actually feel like we are indeed traveling through time.
One of these people is Kyle Hudson of West Chester, who has created an application called Time Machine Tours. The app, designed for iOS and free for the users, is attempting to work as a “virtual museum” that ties historic content, in most cases photographs, to GPS coordinates on a map.
This innovative app tells users where they can locate the actual location of the image they are currently viewing, and once they get there, allows them to overlay the photograph from the past onto the present site, creating the illusion of looking into the past.
Time Machine Tours, which is produced by Hudson’s company Digital Exhibition Systems Inc. with the help of local software developer Clay Zug, was the originator of the three year old app called the Chester County Time Machine.
Hudson worked with the Chester County Historical Society to gather content for the old app, which in the end created a nine stop walking tour around West Chester, where each location was equipped with a QR code that a user could scan with a tablet or a smart phone to display an old photograph that was taken from around that spot.
Unlike its predecessor, the new app uses an improved interface instead of QR code, and includes photos, mostly drawn from the public domain that can be viewed anywhere in the world. Hudson said he entered a prototype of Time Machine Tours into the University of Pennsylvania sponsored Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies Wayfinding App Challenge in July, winning second place and a $10,000 reward.
He used the money received from the reward to refine and improve Time Machine Tours before launching it officially on Apple’s App Store on October 9. The final product includes virtual tours of West Chester, Old City Philadelphia, and Coatesville, with stops such as High Bridge, the Speakman Hotel, and the National Bank of Chester Valley.
While the app is currently only available on iOS devices, Hudson said that an Android version is in the works.