Carleton University students win award for Rideau Canal app

A team from Carleton University has been awarded a national public history prize for creating the Rideau Timescapes App.

“I think it really demolishes the stereotype that academics are only interested in what goes on in the ‘ivory tower,’ so I’m really excited about that,” said co-director of the centre for public history James Opp.

Timescapes is the result of a one-year collaboration.

History students took care of researching while information technology students built the app, letting users interact with the visual heritage of 26 lock stations along the Rideau Canal.

From Kingston to Ottawa, students tagged more than 700 photos with actual GPS coordinates.

“That took a lot of fieldwork,” said Opp.

Zoomable images can be overlaid with contemporary scenes in real time using the phone camera, letting users position the historical image within the landscape and adjust the amount of transparency.

“The platform that we built could actually be applied anywhere in the world,” said Opp.

He received the prize at the annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association in Victoria, B.C. Tuesday.

Opp was recognized along with Anthony Whitehead, director of the school of information technology, and Will Knight, project manager and PhD candidate in the history department.

“This was entirely built by Carleton students,” said Opp.

The free, bilingual app can be used with Apple products and is partially funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

For details, visit
Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

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