Japan’s Yesterscape improves its time-machine app, enables web upload of old memories



One of my favorite startups to write about last year was Kyoto-based Qooq Inc. As you may recall, this is the company that operates a so-called ‘time machine’ application, Yesterscape, which lets you view images of the past through your smartphone camera.

So for example, you might take a picture of your parents in front of the Eiffel Tower in France this year, and then revisit it five years later and see the same picture through your camera thanks to this augmented reality app.

While this process works great for images that you’ve taken on your smartphone, what about old images that you might have taken before you even had a smartphone? What about photos your parents or grandparents might have taken? How can we input those?

Today Yesterscape has taken a step towards solving that problem, now providing a web interface that allows for the uploading of photos from your PC. The interface still needs some polishing, but I managed to upload a picture of my great-grandparents, and pin it in time and space as best I could using the Google Maps and Streetview interface. The latter was a bit tricky for me on a PC, determining the direction and angle of the photo, data that you don’t need to worry about when adding photos with the smartphone app. You can see a sample upload interface in the screenshot below:


The new interface enables users to bridge both space and time to pin a photo, something they can’t do with the app, as founder Hide Nu explains:

I have heard some users say that they want to upload picture taken somewhere far away, perhaps from an old trip or from a past home. The new interface will allow users to upload their pictures via the web instead of actually going to the location. With this they can easily place their important photographs in time and space. To make Yesterscape a common architecture in augmented reality for photograph in the near future, we have to have a convenient tool to [handle] old media.

He also explains that for some companies or organizations that have many historical photos, they will offer a special account with a customized interface for free.


Interestingly, they have also added a function where users can import a Sekai Camera KMZ file to import their photos and data from that now defunct augmented reality application. Our readers may recall that Sekai Camera closed down last month, perhaps a service that consumers were not ready for when it launched five years back.

It may be possible that the world is still not yet ready for Yesterscape. My guess is that the app is not overwhelmed with users just yet. But now that smartphones have made (networked) photographers of just about everyone, maybe by the time the world is ready, Yesterscape will be prepared and can be waiting for them [1].

The idea of preserving our history is a notion that everyone should be enthusiastic about, and I hope that especially here in Japan, a place with such an incredibly rich history, that Yesterscape can find some support.

You can check out a brief intro to Yesterscape from the company’s CTO, Oscar Peredo, below.

  1. With more compact and DSLR cameras getting wireless capabilities, I’d say that there’s lots of long term potential for an idea like this.  ↩