Back to the Future: Interactive image timeline wins top prize at Photo Hack Day Japan



Readers may recall that we have written much about Kyoto-based startup Qooq Inc, whose Yesterscape app provides a new and interesting way to view photos of the past. But viewing old photos according to location is just one way show images of the past. This past weekend at Photo Hack Day Japan [1], hosted by Aviary and Mixi, the winning project for the two-day hackathon was a similar solution to view photos of the past. But instead of narrowing the presentation by location, the ‘Back to the Future’ web app (as it was dubbed) grouped images by topic according to a keyword search.

The project was created by Theeraphol Wattanavekin, a developer working here in Japan, and three other team members (Rapee Suveeranont, Yoonjo Shin, and Thiti Luang) who joined him remotely [2]. The app made use of the Getty Images API and used Leap Motion as an interface, in order to create a sort of walk through time experience.

As you can see in the picture above, Theeraphol did a search for the term ‘computer’ with image results restricted to a time range of 1972 to 2012. Using Leap Motion, he could walk through the timeline by making a sort of stepping motion with both hands. Of course, it doesn’t take much to imagine possible applications for such a presentation. Aviary CEO Tobias Peggs mentioned that something like this would be interesting for kids to use in a museum, for example.

Walk through the history of the computer using ‘Back to the Future’ web app

I was personally more impressed with the actual design of the timeline (above), and if you think about integrating more photo sources, especially rich sources like museums or historical archives or even news organization, then it could be really exciting. In a way, it looks like a more refined version of Timeline.js from Knight Lab, which has been popular among news organizations (we’ve used it here on The Bridge as well). I hope that the team can keep developing this project, or alternatively make it available in a way that is easy for people to use [3].

Back to the Future was chosen as the winning project out of the 23 projects that were presented, walking away with 300,000 yen as the top prize, the Leap Motion API prize of Leap controllers for all team members and a Unity3D license, and the Gettyimages Connect API prize of a 50,000 yen gift card. There were lots of other fun ideas developed over the weekend, and hopefully we can tell you about more of them soon.

If you’d like to see more photos from event, do check out the album over on our Facebook page.

Theeraphol and his team also won the prize for best use of the Leap Motion API.

  1. In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I volunteered to participate as one of the judges as a way of lending some support for this competition.  ↩

  2. I understand the three others are co-founders of Boonmee Lab, though Rapee and Yoonjo have worked in Japan like Theeraphol.  ↩

  3. Theeraphol has made his code available on Github (I hope he doesn’t mind me linking to it), and I managed to get it running myself, but not entirely functional due to the Chrome web security issue. (Note that it only runs on Chrome for now.)  ↩