The University's information center has unveiled a new mobile tour application, in partnership with the founders of Harvard Innovation Lab’s startup PIVOTtheWorld, which allows users to view campus landmarks through a new interactive and historical lens.
The new app allows users to pivot their phone’s camera towards a building on Harvard’s campus and gain access to pictures of the site from as early as the late 1800’s, as well as historical context on the building.
PIVOT was founded by Kennedy School alumna Asma S. Jaber and her husband Sami Jitan. The idea for the app sprung from Jaber’s desire to connect with her parent’s Palestinian history.
“I wanted a way, after my father passed away, to be able to capture and share this history to a wider audience, especially those at a risk of being lost.” Jaber said.
Jaber and Jitan then took the idea to the Harvard Innovation Lab where they won the Deans’ Cultural Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2014. In doing so, they received $25,000 to further develop their startup.
Originally, the app was focused on providing information about locations all over the world. But soon after winning the challenge, the pair got in contact with Harvard Public Affairs and Communications, according to Jaber.
“We conversed with them about a possible mobile app and how they wanted to engage users with Harvard’s history,” Jaber said.
Through the app, users can also listen to an audio recording giving historical context on a site about which they are interested in learning more. With 24/7 availability, the app allows tourists to explore campus outside of normal tour hours, according to Jitan.
“The problem we saw with Harvard was that students who work as tour guides for the information center have lives outside of their work, and during those times no one is there to given the official Harvard tour,” Jitan said. “We are hoping that this will serve as a surrogate tour guide and eventually a companion of tours at Harvard.”
Students like Charles A. Scherr ’17, who serves as the Crimson Key Society Guidebook and Marketing Manager, reiterated the importance of having more accessible tours.
“Harvard’s history is incredibly unique,” Scherr said. “The more people who can access a tour of the Yard, the better.”
Jaber and Jitan recognize the need to get Harvard students involved in their app. The duo is currently in talks with the Harvard Computer Society to hear students’ input on the mobile tour app.
“HCS is currently working to collaborate with PIVOT on a series of events that give our members the experience of working in a startup and give PIVOT a new perspective on their app,” said Abdulrahman Jamjoom ’19, Director of Internal Relations for HCS.—Staff writer Junina Furigay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter @junina_furigay.
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