Want to see what Jesus saw? There’s an app for that.
A team of entrepreneurs, tech innovators and archeologists have teamed up to create Architip, an augmented-reality program that brings Israel’s ancient sites to life before your eyes — on your smartphone screen, of course.
“People want to touch the past and feel the story when they visit ancient sites,” Yaron Benvenisti, said co-creator of the app. Visiting ancient ruins with faded mosaics might spark his imagination, but many people struggle to stay interested when they do not have the actual image or structure in front of them.
Architip bridges the “imagination gap,” he said.
Simply hold a a cell phone in front of a site and the ancient structure will appear in its original glory.
Hold your smartphone in front of the Dome of the Rock and watch it transform into the Jewish holy site of the Second Temple, which was destroyed millennia ago. Or watch an old painting transform into the brightly-colored masterpiece it once was.
It’s one of a wealth of new apps merging computer graphics with the real world.
“Augmented reality combines a live view of the real world, typically through a smartphone camera, with information from the web to put more information at our fingertips,” editor-in-chief of LaptopMag.com Mark Spoonauer said. This type of technology has become extremely popular in recent years Spoonauer explains.
“Layar is probably the best-known augmented reality app, which is available for Android devices. It’s been downloaded more than 30 million times and lets you play videos just by pointing your phone at a magazine.”
Soon after reading about Google Glass, Benvenisti said the idea for Architip dawned on him.
“I was visiting a museum when the idea came to me,” said the seasoned entrepreneur, who studied archaeology at Tel Aviv University. “The tech bug was always there, but archaeology is my passion. I just connected the dots.”
Architip uses the same basic format as other well-known augmented reality programs, but Benvenisti enlisted the help of tech-savvy friend Sagiv Philipp to develop a new technology for their app.
“It has to be exactly at the right place and it has to be stable,” Benvenisti explained. “The ability to place it in the right context in the 3D world and make it solid is something we couldn’t use the existing technologies to do.”
While Architip currently only lends itself to sites across Israel — such as Tel Lachish, an ancient city captured and destroyed by the Israelites in the Book of Joshua — Benvenisti hopes his program will expand across the globe.
“At the end of the day, we want to take this global,” he said. “For this generation growing up with mass media, everything is visual, and with sight being our most important sense, this technology is in the right time.”
Although Architip is still in private beta testing, the app promises exciting news for archaeology-buffs and tourists alike.
“There is something that compels us to visit these places,” Benvenisti said.