Kyoto-based startup gives us virtual glimpse of yesterday with time machine app [Video]


Readers may recall a few months back when we wrote about Kyoto-based startups Qooq, and its very clever augmented reality app Yesterscape. At the time, we saw a brief bump in our incoming traffic when science fiction author William Gibson happened to re-tweet the article. I recently had a chance to speak with the creator of Yesterscape, and CEO of Qooq Inc, who goes by the name of ‘Hide Nu’. While chatting with me in his Kyoto office, he mentioned estaticly that he’s a huge fan of Gibson, saying he’s read all his novels, pulling one off the office shelf to show me.


For those unfamiliar with the app, Yesterscape lets you take pictures and save them virtually in a specific location. Then, if you return to that location later, you can revisit your memory using your smartphone. The app surpassed the 100,000 downloads mark earlier this month, and they continue to build and improve it. The most recent additions to the service include the ability to get a notification when a picture of someone you know is posted nearby, as well as the option to let others see your photos using AirDrop or Line. They also hope to implement markerless AR in the future as well [1].

Nu tells me that they do plan to promote this service outside of Japan, and to that end, they will be headed to SXSW next year.

I also had a chance to meet with the company’s CTO, Mexican-born Oscar Peredo. He’s a very enthusiastic personality, with a deep love for Japan, and development skills to match. He told me that what they are trying to do is make entirely new products:

We try to create things that have not been created before. We specialize in developing things that are useful for daily life, that people can enjoy using. We also try to surprise them.

Initially, while I was a big fan of the idea of Yesterscape, I was skeptical about its business potential. But after speaking with Nu, it seems to me that a service like Yesterscape is almost certain to be a fixture in our future. When he mentioned that it could even be used by conventional digital cameras, I started thinking about how easy it would be for even wi-fi enabled compacts and DSLRs to implement something like Yesterscape. Ideally it could manifest itself as a hardware ‘Yesterscape’ switch on a camera, but more realistically it would be more like a social share to the web.

Personally, I really admire this project, especially the idea of executing it here in Japan where the elderly demographic is so huge. The possibility of old people’s memories dying as they die can be thought of as a sort of cultural crisis. And I really think that governments should be on board sponsoring something like this, getting their own archives transferred into Yesterscape.

  1. Markerless augmented reality uses parts of our environment as a tracking target, rather than some black and white graphic as we typically see in traditional AR.  ↩