The iPhone has coined a new phrase in the American lexicon: “There’s an app for that.”
If you are an iPhone owner, you know that there are something in excess of 250,000 iPhone apps covering nearly every use that one could conceive. But I will bet you dollars to Megabytes of data download that you didn’t know that there is an iPhone app for remembering what happen in the U.S. on September 11, 2001.
I learned about the “Explore 9/11” app from an article in the New York Times. It was created by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and can take you on either a guided walking tour or a virtual tour of seven stops in the area surrounding “Ground Zero.” You can download the free app from the App Store on iTunes; it also runs on the iPod Touch and iPad.
During the tour you hear short audio clips narrated by those directly affected by the attacks on the Twin Towers: People who worked in offices in the World Trade Center, a fire department lieutenant, a NYPD detective, Lower Manhattan residents, a welder, a volunteer medical professional, as well as visitors to the 9/11 Memorial Preview site. These verbal vignettes of are accompanied by still photos taken on and after that horrific day.
The app also has a timeline with related photographs that begins before the fateful day in 2001, then ticks off the most significant events on the morning of 9/11, and continues on through the days and months after the terrorists attacks. The final entry on the timeline describes the plan to create the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
You can use the foregoing features of the Explore 9/11 app wherever you are in the world. But if you are walking around Lower Manhattan, the GPS function of your iPhone will let you access a gallery of photos taken near your location, using “Augmented Reality” technology, to put you where it happened, when it happened: A powerful way to remind you of all of the lives lost nine year ago. (Click here to read more about “Augmented Reality”, also known as “AR”, in the September 2010 issue of National Geographic).
(Part one of Dick Jordan’s four-part essay about his travels in the post 9/11 era, The Year of Flying Dangerously, ran on this blog on Monday, September 13, 2010. Successive installments will be published each Monday through October 4th).