Augmented reality (AR) may be modern technology, but entrepreneur Chris Whalen wants to use the tech and a new app, Historik, to bring back the past. Using a smartphone with AR capabilities, Historik can recreate historic buildings and objects at specific markers and let users learn more about the past, swipe through artifacts and even explore an old area in full 3D. Users will even be able to set up self-guided tours.

Of the app, which aims to launch in June 2022, the Historik website writes, 'Historik is your passport to experience history at its origin. We are building the nation's largest open-source database of the past, enabling the development of products focused on history. Our purpose is to digitally preserve the past, at the same time, create the most immersive experiences solely concentrated on history.'

In a KTVB7 report, Dave Walker, chair of Coeur d'Alene's Historic Preservation Commission in Idaho said, 'It's a technology that I've never seen anywhere. This can really, really grow into a big deal.'

Speaking with KTVB7, Whalen said, 'I want to be able to bring our city to life with technology and have history be the centerpiece of that. We're trying to reach the older generations and the younger generations at the same time.'

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Whalen himself hopes to create around eight augmented reality experiences. He's completed one of the historic Wilma Theatre in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, which was built in 1936, closed in 1983 and demolished in 1997 following a roof collapse. For those who have seen this AR experience, it's been great. Walker was able to stand where he had bought tickets at the theatre back when he was a child.

It's evident that Whalen along won't be able to create a lot of AR experiences by himself, and he's focused on his local area. For Historik to work on a large scale, it will require financial backing and leverage its open-source nature to allow many users worldwide to create their own AR experiences to share. A private backer has helped Whalen stay the course with Historik now, but he estimates he'll need about $250,000 to develop the product and take it nationwide.

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Whalen hopes that families will be able to contribute to the open-source database when Historik launches, preserving their family history and receiving credit. 'Our job at Historik is to create a platform for communities to have a place where they can digitally preserve that history,' Whalen said. 'So no matter what happens to the actual artifact, their history will live on forever.'

Whalen hopes that the app can be useful for schools as well. The app could have crafted experiences for students on field trips, for example, and could use geocaching to make learning about history more fun. The app will be free, although some features will be locked behind a subscription, including AR, hands-free audio and bookmarking.

Before a public launch next summer, Historik can be beta tested. If you'd like to learn more about receiving early access, visit Historik. It's an interesting idea and hopefully, it can receive the support it needs to take off. If many people participated, it could become a rich resource full of fascinating history and great old photography brought back to life.