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NHK AR Time Warp” is an app that allows users to explore Asakusa by superimposing the townscape with various historical images, enabling users to explore Asakusa’s past and present. The app was used in NHK’s city exploration television program “Commemorative Photos Across Time — MACHIKODO Time Warp (まちかどタイムワープ)” which was premiered on July 17th, 2023. Just like the elementary school students who participated in an experience event for the app, anyone is able to install it on a compatible smartphone device.

Development Background

1915’s video superimposed in the same place (Image is provided by NHK)

The development of this app was inspired by a tweet from our engineer, Matt (@mechpil0t), who regularly conducts Research and Development (R&D) for various apps.

In 2020, Matt was conducting experiments with an app to verify various technologies and ideas developed through R&D. He had a personal interest in watching old footage from Japan. During this time, he noticed that many landmarks like Sensoji Temple’s Kaminarimon Gate are still well preserved today. This sparked the idea of using digital technology to overlay old footage onto the current environment, creating an intriguing concept for an R&D app.

Among the many old videos, Matt became particularly interested in the historical footage of Asakusa. The footage showed people passing through various gates in Asakusa, and he noticed that even in the present day, people were still passing through the same gates. He saw this as a special connection that transcends time, bridging the present and the past. This discovery became the catalyst for the tweet that led to the “NHK AR Time Warp” app’s development.

Apart from Asakusa, there are various old videos available from other locations as well. Matt has been conducting similar experiments in places like Kobe, Kyoto, Osaka, Nikko, Kamakura, and more.

■ Link to Full Text of the Article

Japan Broadcasting Corporation

NHK AR Time Warp


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