Posted: Friday, 2nd March 2012
Dr Darren Dancey, Professor Steve Hawley and Marion Hewitt at the launch on Tuesday 28 February.
THE Manchester Time Machine, a new app from MMU, has already had over 4000 downloads despite only being launched on Tuesday.
The free app, which is the first in the world to merge archive film and GPS, has been getting 5* ratings on iTunes and received nearly 2000 downloads on Tuesday alone - after being featured on Granada TV’s evening news bulletin.
Marion Hewitt, Director of MMU’s North West Film Archive, had the idea for the app which allows users to pinpoint their location in Manchester and watch footage of the place from 40,70 or even 100 years ago.
She said: “I’m thrilled that the app has generated such a buzz so quickly – I know from experience that the appeal of archive film of well-loved places is huge, but wasn’t quite ready for the astonishing response to combining it with the iPhone.
“We were hoping for a few thousand downloads in the launch year to gauge the response but we’re way beyond that already which is fantastic, and I knew we had the know-how here at MMU to do it.”
Developing the Time Machine drew on expertise from across the University with the NWFA working with Professor Steve Hawley of Art and Design Dr Darren Dancey of Computer Science.
“To me the most exciting thing about the app is how it combines the skills and expertise of different parts of MMU: the creative vision of Art and Design, the technical skills of Science and Engineering and the content curation of the NWFA,” said Dr Dancey.
“It’s a first for the University, as well as being the first app of its kind” added Professor Hawley, “It’s great to see different areas of the University coming together on this innovative project and seeing it get such a great response."
The app includes over 80 highlights of film shot in the city centre, from a Whitwalk on Market Street in 1911 to a student demonstration in the 1970s on Oxford Road.
As well as a GPS locator, each film is accompanied by background information and a virtual compass to ensure users are oriented in the direction of the film clip.
The app is currently available on iPhone and there are plans to produce versions for iPad and Android.
The code development for these versions will be done by students who will also work on additional features for the app.
Dr Dancey explained: “This has the benefit of producing a great product for MMU and Manchester but also gives our students app development experience that will add to their employability.”
The app shows how much and how little the area around the main campus has changed; a clip from 1957 shows the famous Paulden’s department store fire which stood where Cambridge Halls of residence are now and clips of student demonstrations and rag week processions show that Oxford Road was a lively student corridor even back in the 70s.
To visit the iTunes store and download the app now click here.