The history of the world is often just as interesting as the present, if not more so. There are plenty ways to explore our past, from the text of history books and photography to film, and VR has been adding a wrinkle to this throughout the new virtual era spurred by the Vive and Rift. Developers have created a handful of VR apps and games that transport us to past events, architecture, monuments, and more. Timescope, a french startup, is taking this idea into the public with VR terminals that give the community a portal into the past in Paris, France.
The very first terminal was installed at the Place de la Bastille, a pivotal landmark in French history. During the French Revolution, the Bastille prison stood as a monument to royal authority and was destroyed during the “Storming of the Bastille” in 1789. Right now it is home to the July column, a monument to the Revolution but, via the Timescope, you can pay 2 euros to see the Bastille as if it were still in the exact same spot. They’ve installed two additional Timescopes since. The second is at the Charles de Gaulle airport and allows viewers to teleport to various areas of interest to see them before traveling. The newest, as covered on CNTraveler, is near the Port de’Arcole and is free to use.
For all of their terminals, the Timescope crew references historic documents and converses with historians to make their virtual creations as accurate as possible. They also include text overlays to share more information on what the user is seeing. It’s an interesting way to introduce tourists or even local passersby to VR and show them how much their surroundings have drastically changed over hundreds of years. It’s a very cool concept that will be expanded further across France (Timescope is planning a terminal for Normandy) but it’d be great to see it spread to other countries. The educational aspect combined with its small footprint and accessibility (adjustable height for viewers of all sizes) should be appealing to people around the world.