Imagine you are walking somewhere, maybe your home street or maybe a unique travel destination, and you start to wonder what the place looked like in the past. Perhaps this has happened to you before, especially when visiting cultural heritage sites. Now, with a new app called PIVOT, you may soon be able to discover what places looked like in the past through the screen of your smartphone.
"PIVOT reveals to users images, videos and information based on a specific location during a specific time period. Multimedia changes as either location changes, or as a different time period is selected," according to the app's website.
When a user reaches a spot that has photographic information from the past to share, a notification is sent through the user's phone. The user can then point the phone at their surroundings and see the images of the past.
The idea was born from a desire to preserve the cultural heritage and history of Asma Jaber and Sami Jitan's beloved homeland. Although they both grew up in the United States, their families originally hailed from Palestine. The engaged couple also met in Palestine in 2012 at the same location where Jaber's late father was exiled from many years before. Having grown up hearing stories of Palestine, they recognized the importance of preserving the history of the places their ancestors called home.
“My father used to tell me stories on the history of Palestine and all the cities we used to visit. After he died, I wanted to preserve and share all this information,” Jaber told Wamda .
"There were over 400 villages destroyed in Palestine during the Nakba," Jaber told Fast Company . "The idea for PIVOT was born in Palestine, but with crowdsourcing, the idea can scale beyond that."
The project's crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter raised more than $33,000, surpassing its $30,000 goal. In May of 2014, Jaber and Jitan also won the Dean’s Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge at the Harvard Innovation Lab, receiving a prize of $25,000. Through the help of mentors at Harvard's i-Lab, the couple decided to launch the Kickstarter campaign.
Released last August, the app compiled images and information from historic Palestine and Harvard University for the beta version. With plans of utilizing an algorithm to draw images from public records and archives, the app is intended to work in many more locations moving forward. The app will also allow users to upload their own historic images of different locations.
While still based out of Harvard's i-Lab, Jaber and Jitan are also working with a Chicago-based Palestinian company called iConnect and received funding from PalTel.
"We also would like to cooperate with Zochrot.org in terms of data providers. We deeply care about the social factor and about cooperating with all websites and initiatives so as to preserve history instead of competing with them," Jitan told Wamda .
Clearly a market for the unique app exists, as Jaber pointed out, "During the first week, we received emails from Australia, Turkey and Spain asking to use the beta version to document history for academic or tourism reasons."
For now, the app is already working to preserve the heritage that Jaber and Jitan grew up hearing stories about.