Want to see the Twin Towers again? There’s an app for that

Want to see the Twin Towers again? There’s an app for that
Photo by Paul Martinka

The ghosts of Sept. 11 are still with us. And now you can get two more — the Twin Towers themselves — on your iPhone.

Greenpoint resident Brian August has created a mobile app that superimposes silhouettes of the World Trade Center’s iconic towers onto photos of the New York skyline — from any point in the city.

As a native New Yorker who grew up in awe of Lower Manhattan skyscrapers, August wanted to memorialize the bygone towers and show them to younger generations.

“It’s the real experience — as much as I can give it to someone,” August said. “I was obsessed with the fact that they were missing and thought about how I could explain them to someone who’d never seen them.”

Called 110 Stories, the free program is scheduled for release in Apple’s App Store on Wednesday.

The app works by using augmented reality, the latest smartphone technology that fuses computer-generated content and real-world views.

First, the software uses a global positioning system to identify where users are with sci-fi precision — determining their latitude, longitude and the angle at which they’d see the towers.

Then it directs them to the best position to snap a photo. Within seconds, two imperfect, but scale models of the towers appear on the screen — exactly where they would have been on Sept. 10, 2001.

August deliberately made the towers similar to pencil drawings, without details or interiors, because otherwise the images “would get too creepy.”

“This is an artist’s rendering of the buildings, a couple of paint strokes, and that’s enough,” he said.

The app creates a dark outline during the day and a white contour at night and works whether users are across the street in Lower Manhattan, at Fulton Ferry Landing or on a rooftop in Williamsburg.

In fact, the digital buildings mimic a World Trade Center model made of copper tubing that he photographed on his roof last summer.

Back then, he had a friend hold up the metal mold before the skyline, took a photo on his cellphone — and his idea was born.

“When we looked at it on the iPhone, we were blown away,” August said. “I knew it needed to be an app, but then I wondered, ‘How the hell am I going to do this?’ ”

He did it by quickly raising $25,000 this summer. A Chicago-based developer designed the dream app and a German company programmed the augmented reality engine. The program has gained so much attention even prior to launch that Google has offered to help build an Android version.

The program will coincide with a website, 110stories.com, which allows users to share their photos and anecdotes on the iconic buildings.

August said he’s hosting a launch party the day before Sept. 11 to begin collecting people’s snapshots and stories.

“We’re creating these beautiful agnostic views of the towers,” August said. “And now wherever people are in New York, they can see them again.”

For info, visit www.110stories.com.

Here’s what it looks like on the phone itself.
Photo by Paul Martinka