Scotland’s University of St Andrews is releasing a VR app that enables users to explore the streets, markets, palaces and churches of 16th century Edinburgh, called Virtual Time Binoculars: Edinburgh 1544. As well as sweeping panoramas of the city, Edinburgh castle and its surrounding landscape, the mobile app enables exploration of the Netherbow Port, the West Bow, the Grassmarket, Cowgate, Trinity College, Holyrood Palace and St Giles’ Kirk.
The Google Cardboard app has been created by St Andrews’ spinout company Smart History, whose Digital Designer Sarah Kennedy said, “It is striking how the cityscape is both familiar and different from the city today. Instead of the new town there stands a great loch yet the castle stands guard over the city much as it does now.”
Better Virtual Time Travel Than The Holodeck
On Friday 7 July, Smart History and Museums and Galleries Edinburgh will host a discovery evening at the Museum of Edinburgh, where attendees will be able to walk through the streets of Edinburgh featuring the entire city held within the videogame engine. Using their mobile phones and VR headsets, users will view historic scenes, stereoscopic video and 360 degree images as they explore today’s St Giles’ Kirk and the Grassmarket. With the global release of the app on the same day, Smart History will be at the Museum of Edinburgh for city tours and demonstrations from 10am to 4pm both Saturday and Sunday.
Catherine Anne Cassidy, Head of Smart History’s Digital Curation said, “In some ways, time binoculars offer better virtual time travel than even the Holodeck on the Starship Enterprise. While the holodeck is incredibly realistic, it only exists in one place in time and space. Virtual Time Binoculars is a holodeck you can take anywhere with you.”
Virtual Time Travel Travels
The Edinburgh reconstructions are just the beginning for Smart History. “We intend for it to be the first of many Virtual Time Binocular apps with depictions of St Andrews and Perth already in the pipeline. We have had interest from across Europe and Latin America, so we expect our Virtual Time travel platform to go global,” says Dr Alan Miller, Director of Smart History.
Virtual Time Binoculars: Edinburgh 1544 will be available to download from tomorrow on the Google Play Store.