fall 2013

Once App on a Time

Dr. Tal Hassner, of the Department of Computer Sciences, an expert on computer vision, is always thinking about new ways to apply computer vision to a wide berth of areas. Dr. Hassner took some time out recently to 'have a bit of fun' and within three weeks produced a new application which took first place in a Tel Aviv competition. Now he has his eyes set on Sao Paulo.

Dr. Tal Hassner of the Department of Computer Sciences, on a last-minute whim, decided to enter the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipal Competition called "Tel Aviv APP2YOU." The municipality was interested in seeing how the city's data bases and archives could best be utilized. Many had just recently been opened.

"The city wanted to see what kind of neat or cool things people can do with applications that would 'benefit' the city. It was pretty obvious to me that 99% of the submissions will be about where is the nearest bicycle stand or recycling bins," Dr. Hassner relates. "I had an idea that was a bit off the wall, but I thought it was a winner".

There were 72 entries, 32 made it to the finals, and there were 10 jury members. You had exactly three minutes to make your presentation. Dr. Hassner was right. Most were applications that helped locate the nearest dog-walking park, recycling bin, or rent-a-bike facility.

Dr. Hassner's idea was eminently more visual, fun, and frankly quite nostalgic, which no doubt struck the hearts of the judges, because Dr. Hassner's team's entry took first place.

Working with a team whom he has worked with before in pursuit of his many projects, Dr. Hassner created "Once App on a Time."

"Once App on a Time" enables you to download archive pictures and take a picture from the same location that the 'original, archival picture' was taken. The system reads GPS coordinates so no matter where you are standing (think beyond Tel Aviv) you can take a picture from exactly the same angle as the original, archival picture was taken.

The application also enables you to swipe elements so you can make artistic combinations to your heart's content. The new and old join together. Currently, applications are compatible for androids and tablets only.

What's next? "This application can be developed to be used in any city around the world, which could literally catapult tourism to a different level. Tourism could become a virtual, real and enriched historical experience. We are working on setting up on an on-line gallery and we want to allow users to update that gallery from their own devices."

"I imagine a world where people use this information to thicken the archives."

Similar to the concept of Google Maps, however with Dr. Tal Hassner's application, we, the people can be continually updating history. Dr. Hassner will tell you that computer vision, his field of speciality, is almost limitless.