Imagine this: You are moving down Kolkata’s Belvedere Road and you see the National Library standing tall like any other day. You point your smartphone at the building...and it is suddenly comes alive in all its 19th century glory.
This is augmented reality (AR), a technology that can overlay text, pictures, videos, and more on the real world around you in real time. Dozens of AR apps exist, but this particular one called Timescape: Kolkata, is a product of a collaborative effort between Kolkata’s Jadavpur University and the British Library, with grant from the University of Liverpool in UK. It is an offshoot of a two year-long UGC-UKIERI project, Envisioning the Indian City.
You can use the app to view 19th century Kolkata on your phone, along with additional information that you can access with a single click or swipe.
“It allows you to explore rare archival images and data about heritage sites in Kolkata. As you point your phone camera at a particular location, the app recognises where you are in the city based on your location,” says Sujaan Mukherjee, a researcher at Jadavpur University. “The image on your screen will then be augmented by a corresponding 19th century photograph and a host of other information about the building including literary references.”
The app will be launched on November 28 Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial Hall. The 19th century photographs have been provided with photographic studio Bourne & Shepherd.
Who is it for? Tourists, heritage walkers, geeks, historians, or you know, just about anyone.