Timelooper is one of the most interesting mobile VR applications I’ve come across lately. A history-themed app, Timelooper offers a bank of virtual experiences set in locations including London, Washington, New York, Berlin, Budapest and more. These are no ordinary 360s in these locations though, nor are they virtual museum tours. Timelooper offers something much more unique – virtual time travel.
The app offers a glimpse at iconic locations and moments in history. Experiences can be enjoyed in either full screen (meaning iPads can be harnessed) or stereoscopic VR with any mobile headset. Timelooper co-founder Andrew Feinberg explained the impetus behind the project to me recently: “We started the company because there are so many amazing places around the world with thousands of years of history and moments that are not effectively told. We wondered, what if you could travel to these places and not only see how they look today, which is a rather standard use-case for VR, but what if you could travel back in time and actually re-live the moments that made those locations famous.”
The experiences in Timelooper often start in the modern day with 360⁰ video footage. This will then segue into a 3D generated vision of the past that is matched up to the modern-day footage to create a truly striking effect. Take a look at this short clip from The Blitz experience in London:
As you can see, the way Timelooper gives context to its experiences like this is unparalleled and a real benefit to history students trying to understand the past. Not all of the experiences harness this technique but many do and it really is quite brilliant. Even better – if you are in a position to actually visit any of the locations in focus, Timelooper can actually work live on location – with the app mapping and aligning to the physical surroundings. It would be like staring through time.
Andrew went on to explain how Timelooper is developing as an educational platform: “TimeLooper is building out a global education service to bring historically accurate and compelling content into history, social studies, and civics classrooms to help teachers engage, inspire, and provoke students to not just study, but experience history. Through VR students will be able to emotionally explore complex topics and hopefully reach a deeper level of understanding.”
The bank of experiences in Timelooper is already quite large and growing steadily, with Angkor Wat and Beijing coming next. Here is a list of my 5 favourite Timelooper experiences (besides the Blitz one highlighted above.)
The Wall Street Crash
A haunting on-rails experience through a moment frozen in time on Black Tuesday aka the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The camera swoops past faces of horror, shock and despair as soundbites drift in and out on the soundtrack.
The Great Fire of London
There are actually a couple of experiences for The Great Fire of London but the one on the ground near St Paul’s Cathedral which was famously destroyed in the blaze. As the modern view dissolves, the flames rise around you and firefighters rush to the rescue.
The workers on the Rockefeller Center
You know that iconic image of the workers in the 30s sitting eating their lunch on the beams of the under-construction Rockefeller Center? Now you can stand up there with them. I absolutely love this one.
Journey to America
You stand on a immigrant ship heading towards America and the promise it holds. This immersive experience follows the true story of a young Polish girl as she recounts the rollercoaster of emotions she felt aboard the boat.
The Tower of London
Watch English heritage come to life as the clock is turned back to 1255 and the early days of the great Tower of London. There is some fantastic detail to this one, with contemporary characters trying to interact with you and plenty to spot – including an elephant being delivered by King Louis IX of France!
Timelooper is a subscription service so to access all of the experiences, schools need to contact the team and arrange for licenses. That being said, the app is free to download and there are a handful of free experiences which you can download and try for yourself. Find out more about Timelooper via their website: www.timelooper.com