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Streetmuseum: iPhone app is an augmented-reality London time machine

Step into the past with your iPhone as augmented-reality app Streetmuseum lets you mingle with suffragettes, hippies and Londoners of days gone by

Richard Trenholm
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Richard Trenholm
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London is a city steeped in history, and your iPhone is about to become your very own TARDIS. The newly expanded Museum of London has launched a spectacular augmented-reality app called Streetmuseum, a window into the lives of the people who walked these streets before us.

Point your iPhone at a historical landmark and you'll see what it looked like in days gone by. Rubble from bombed buildings cascades into the street, while suffragettes, hippies and flat-capped workers mingle with today's tourists and locals. Pictured above is the Salvation Army Headquarters on Queen Victoria Street, photographed as its facade collapsed after the bombing of 10 May 1941, one of the worst nights of the Blitz.

The AR element of Streetmuseum only works on the iPhone 3GS, but if you have an iPhone 3G you can still look at the map for historical information about the city.

Russian artist Sergei Larenkov last year created a similar effect in Photoshop, blending the bustle of modern-day St Petersburg with the rubble, barrage balloons and bodies littering the streets of the WW2-era city, then called Leningrad. To make your own version, simply hold old photos in front of your camera like the charming history buffs at the Looking Into the Past Flickr group.

Streetmuseum is available today from the iTunes App Store. Click 'Continue' for more tantalising glimpses of the past in our time-travelling photo gallery.

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Streetmuseum shows areas of interest on a map.
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Your iPhone becomes a window to the past.
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Background information on the place where you're standing brings the past to life.
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A soldier gets his shoes shined in Piccadilly Circus in 1953.
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Protestors challenge Oswald Mosley's Union Movement rally in Trafalgar Square in 1962.
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Russian artist Sergei Larenkov created similar shots showing modern-day St Petersberg glimpsing the brutal siege of Leningrad.
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Other images include suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst arrested outside Buckingham Palace, Bank station hit by a WW2 bomb, and skaters on the frozen Thames in 1677. The app is available now in the iTunes App Store.

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