No DeLorean needed, just a smartphone.
We may not have hoverboards or flying cars on the day that Marty McFly traveled back to future on October 21, 2015, but time travel is just a download away thanks to one local entrepreneur, Kyle Hudson.
Time Machine Tours is a newly-released, free iOS app that features self-guided walking tours that contain historical photos from private collections and the public domain. Each tour includes historical photos and captions and a map where each photo was taken. Time Travelers can visit these tours from the comfort of their couches or follow in the footsteps of photographers from the past centuries.
“The goal of the app is to make historical information fun, easy to access, and engaging,” said Time Machine Tours Founder and Co-Pilot, Kyle Hudson. “We’re essentially building the world’s first virtual museum that is free to everyone.”
Hudson started the project in 2012, and it originally was called the Chester County Time Machine. Instead of the app, users scanned QR codes that pulled up a website with a historic photo taken from where they stood. They could hold the device next to its current location, giving the illusion of looking into the past.
The inspiration for the project came when Hudson worked as a waiter at Penn’s Table in West Chester. While rolling silverware, he’d often admire the historical photos of West Chester throughout the restaurant and wished he could bring them outside and compare them to their current location.
This past June, he entered a prototype of Time Machine Tours app into a Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT) Wayfinding App Challenge, sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania. It won second place that included a $10,000 prize. The prize money allowed Hudson to refine the app to its current state with the help of a local developer, Clay Zug.
Currently, the app contains four tours in West Chester, Coatesville, and Philadelphia, PA. However, Hudson plans to add content weekly and build tours around the country. Time Machine Tours is currently looking for universities, tourism bureaus, historical societies, museums, media organizations, photographers, and anyone with historical photos to partner with to build new tours.