09 April 2012

Zeitfenster: The time travel App

Sven Straubinger and Patrick Burkert. "Zeitfenster" project team members. Photo: Evandro Oliveira

Can you imagine walking in the city center and seeing how it looked like in the past? 
The Zeitfenster, Time Window App, makes possible the journey into the past of the Baden-Württemberg state capital. A smartphone is enough to get it started. The project was developed by students at the Stuttgart Media University.

If you walk through the Stuttgart city center with this app it is always a learning experience and provide insights on the cultural heritage. It even can become a journey through time. The App allows views on places, buildings and urban landscape that are not there anymore or don´t look the same, like the Stuttgart City Hall, destroyed by a bomb, or how the castle garden looked like in the 1970s. But more than entertainment, this project aimed to be scientific proof. Therefore, the developers cooperated with specialists and institutions to make sure that the content was accurate.  

The idea to develop an app that works with "Augmented Reality" occurred to the students while they were walking through Stuttgart and wondering about facts from the past. "Augmented Reality" is basically the extension of reality, if you look through your smartphone's camera. As of the current GPS position of the smartphone holder is determined and the display of the mobile device is added to read information about the environment.

While walking with the smartphone camera around, little blue pins open on the phone display, which are called the “time windows”.  Behind each of those there are hidden images from the past. Once users enter the window, they can choose the year they want to travel and merge the current image they see on their smartphone, with the historic picture in a real-time immersion in the city's history.
The images have been provided by the enthusiastic team of the Media Center and the History Museum of Baden-Württemberg. Parallel to the images, there is also a short information text attached, that provides extra knowledge such as historical background or photographer details. This material was compiled by history researchers of both institutions.

The team behind the “time window App" includes two project leaders Patrick Burkert and Benjamin Dredge as well as technical specialists Diana Bull, Nils Fröhlich and Sven Straubinger. "Creators, designers and developers work together. This gives the whole project a creative and interdisciplinary character", says Patrick Burkert.

The last tests and updates will be done during the next weeks and the App will be available soon for download at the App Store.

More information: Zeitfenster Website or Facebook page





  • PIN - Università di Firenze
  • Salzburg Research
  • Universidade de Coimbra
  • Generalitat de Catalunya
  • Universitatea de Vest din Timisoara
  • MFG Baden-Württemberg

Funded by:

This project is funded with support from the European Commission. This website reflects the views only of the authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.