New app targets history enthusiasts

New app targets history enthusiasts


Walking around Amsterdam on a busy day, even those well-read in Dutch history might find that it can be difficult to really "feel" the age of the city.

It's hard not to wish for a window into the past - something that could strip away layers of time, allowing us to see both the changes and the constancies, big and small, that have unfolded over centuries.

For Dutch historian and archaeologist Boudewijn Goudswaard, the desire to help his daughters experience a sense of awe around historical sites led him to search for new means of making history real, experiential and sensory.

The Time Travel app

He decided to harness the potential of smartphones and tablets. Goudswaard partnered with the Delft University of Technology to develop the Time Travel app, now in its fifth version.

Time Travel users can point their mobile devices at locations in Dam Square, Nieuwmarkt and other historical "hotspots," and their screens will show a 3D model of exactly the same location, centuries in the past.

These models were developed using information from paintings and other historical references.

The app is designed to feel like it really is filtering through time. As the user moves around, the camera follows, producing 360 degrees of historical vistas.

What's more, users can choose how far back in time they want to travel. Models have been created for several key historical periods. Users receive extra information about buildings and locations via film clips, pictures, audio and links.

A future for Time Travel

Goudswaard hopes to create Time Travel apps for other major European cities, including Rotterdam, Athens, Paris and Rome.

The makers of the app also envision it playing a broader role in the tourist industry, as a platform for local marketing, educational games and visitor information.

Goudswaard plans to test the new version of the app with passers-by at the Dam Square on February 14th.

Emily McCallum


Emily McCallum

Emily grew up in a small coastal town in western Canada and moved to Utrecht in 2014, after completing her studies in Vancouver and Germany. So far, she has been...

Read more



Leave a comment