“The sun is the past, the earth is the present, the moon is the future.” – Nikola Tesla


Turning your iPhone into a pocket, photographic time machine! Snapture enables iPhone users to explore the historical civic photo archives of your current location. As well as this iPhone application, the project includes a ‘backoffice’ application which crowdsources the geotagging of a historical photo archive, using a community of volunteers, recruited via Mechanical Turk.

Snapture is a collaboration between Leeds Met University and the City of Leeds’ Leodis photo archive, specifically targetting the city’s tourists and residents, though the architecture is adaptable to any city and any photo archive.

Here’s how it works…

  • You’re walking through Leeds city centre and pull out your lovely new iPhone 3G.
  • You load up the ‘Snapture’ application recommended to you by a friend.
  • Snapture asks you to take a photo of anything in your vicinity.
  • Snapture then shows you Leodis photographs of your location, enabling you to ‘time travel’ and see what the area looked like in times past.
  • Snapture also shows you contemporary pictures of your current location drawn from Flickr.
  • Snapture can also look to see if there’s anything else of interest around you – events, special offers, stores and even your friends.
  • Working with the city’s planning office, Snapture can also show you what your location will look like in the future.

The idea is based on the notion of a blind camera that doesn’t capture an image, but captures your location and time in order to find photographs others have taken…coupled with Leodis, this adds a playful temporal dimension and a strong link to the city’s civic heritage and its future.