Bath students help with London’s history

Researchers at Bath Spa University have created a new interactive app that explores the historic origins of London’s streets.

‘London Streets’ is an immersive and interactive iOS and Android app that takes users on a journey through the old streets of London, their origins and history.

Developed at Bath Spa University’s Centre for Creative Computing, this mobile app gives users an interactive experience of how these streets have developed over many centuries and the people, events and buildings that have shaped the growth of this modern City.

The app includes historic maps and images of over 40 streets which can be viewed  – past and present – by tapping images to view them full screen, pinching the screen to zoom in and out of images, swiping sideways to reveal more images as well as the use of a unique lens able to ‘see through time’.

The app features a range of multimedia and interactive content including over 100 historic and contemporary images; three historical maps from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries; original sounds and music; three Victorian-style inventions including an early CCTV system; and a panoramic view of London from 1616.

The Old Watling, Watling Street - as it was
The Old Watling, Watling Street – as it was

The London Streets app builds on the research of Dr Jerry Fishenden, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Creative Computing at Bath Spa University. Dr Fishenden is researching ‘palimpsests of time’.

The transformation from past to present begins.
The transformation from past to present begins.

These ‘palimpsests’ or historic layers of the same place over time, help to reveal how places looked and sounded in the past. This research has identified more evocative ways for users to explore content using new and original computational techniques.

The app builds upon Dr Fishenden’s research which effectively place the same images from different times on top of each other allowing the user to see and also hear the changes and transformation of over 40 streets in London.

The transformation is complete.
The transformation is complete.

Dr Fishenden said: “This app brings together years of research into developing more engaging ways for users to enjoy and interact with historic content. When users explore details about Fleet Street, for example, they will be able to use a ‘time lens’ that reveals how the nearby Old Curiosity Shop looked in the past. Feedback from early users of the app is helping shape and improve future updates.”

The team at the Centre for Creative Computing is now planning to create a similar app for Beijing. PhD student Sicong Ma will be leading on the development of this project in collaboration with Beijing Union University Tourism College.

A video overview of the app can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YEeapsgye0&feature=youtu.be

The free London Streets app can now be downloaded from:

· Apple’s App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/london-streets/id834307566
· the Google Play Android store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.voetek.apps.London_Streets
· Amazon’s Android Appstore at http://www.amazon.co.uk/VoeTek-London-Streets/dp/B00ITOV56W

The Centre for Creative Computing at Bath Spa University offers a new range of computing courses aimed at enterprising students who want to combines excellent technical skills and their ability to be creative. Students at Bath Spa are encouraged to think differently and to make connections across traditional boundaries and Creative Computing fits perfectly with an approach that’s both imaginative and practical, preparing graduates for employment opportunities that may not even exist yet.