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Explore Historic 16th Century Edinburgh with a new VR app

Virtual reality (VR) is a unique way to explore history, able to immerse viewers in ancient landscapes and buildings. Today, a new mobile app has been launched by University of St Andrews’s spinout company Smart History called Virtual Time Binoculars: Edinburgh 1544.

The app will allow users to explore the streets, marketplaces and churches of Edinburgh as they may have been in the 16th century, featuring areas such as Netherbow Port, the West Bow, the Grassmarket, Cowgate, Trinity College, Holyrood Palace and St Giles’ Kirk.

Virtual Time Binoculars Edinburgh 1544 image 1

“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,” said Sarah Kennedy, Smart History’s Digital Designer in a statement.

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.

The app supports Google Daydream, allowing users to view the reconstructions in VR, whilst hotspots highlight the scenes with more facts and historical images for users to learn about the location.

“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,” says Catherine Anne Cassidy, Head of Smart History’s Digital Curation.

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