In July 2011, one New Yorker led the charge to turn an art into an app. Brooklynite Brian August launched a Kickstarter project to fund a mobile app he envisioned would enable users to see the World Trade Center towers where they once were, long after they had gone. Through the help of monetary donations and volunteered services from social, mobile and technology providers, 110 Stories, was launched just in time for the 10-year anniversary.
August’s vision was twofold — to enable users to see the towers again, and then to upload to the 110 Stories website and share a personal story. He is self-dubbed “obsessed with the lost iconography of the Twin Towers.” 110 Stories brings people together to memorialize this tragic event.
To make it work, the user orients the phone toward where the towers once stood. This can be done from up to 50 miles away. Through the use of augmented reality (AR) technology, the towers will be drawn in by the app. The user can tap to lock in the towers and drag them into position with a finger. Snap a photo and the augmented image is created.
Powering the App
The free app was developed by Antenna Software and doPanic. The project was discovered by Antenna on Kickstarter and a team was quickly assembled to donate time. Jim Somers, chief marketing and strategy officer, says, “Antenna’s headquarters is on the water in Jersey City, directly across from the World Trade Center, so the events of 9/11 struck incredibly close to home and made the opportunity to work on 110 Stories that much more unique and emotional.”
Antenna’s typical work is centered on helping large, global enterprises mobilize their business. Somers says, “Building apps like this is not our typical day-to-day work, but we could not miss the chance to support this worthwhile endeavor. And ultimately, the world of mobility is all about taking an idea, pairing it with innovative technology, and putting it in the hands of users through their mobile devices. That’s exactly what this app does. While the audience and functionality is a little different, it is powered by the same technology and we approached it with the same commitment to user happiness as we do with every enterprise project.”
doPanic, now considered one of the leading developers of augmented reality was actually brought in with only three weeks to go in the project process after the original provider could not make the technology work. It’s not surprising, as the technology is very new. Andreas Zeitler, co-founder of the company, says, “Augmented reality a new paradigm on how to present information to users.” He sees tremendous possibilities from its use that not only include consumer-driven apps like 110 Stories, but predicts enterprise use as well.
Zeitler is already working with architecture and construction firms taking traditional blueprints and throwing them out in favor of AR. He believes retail will be the next vertical to take advantage of the technology, but acknowledges that it needs to be further along before the enterprise will realize its value.
Somers notes that 110 Stories pulls together many elements of mobile apps which are leading the trends — both in the consumer and enterprise markets. This includes social integration, geo-location and context-aware computing. He says, “Mobile devices today are built with things like GPS, internal compasses, accelerometers and other components that help make devices ‘aware’ – aware of where you are, how you are oriented and even how fast you may be moving. Leveraging these components for an augmented reality engine in the app makes it possible to point users to where they should take the picture and correctly renders the image of the World Trade Center site using the camera. The use of augmented reality is especially leading-edge and something we expect to see more in mobile applications, both in the consumer realm and in the enterprise.”
110 Stories – A Year Later
The app continues to see success, with more than 200,000 registered users and more than 500 shared stories. Somers says, “This was as a special opportunity for us to apply our mobile expertise to a worthwhile cause that would help people remember the fallen heroes and innocent civilians affected by this tragic event.”