New Pivot App Reveals a Snapshot of Your Location—In the Past

The creators of Pivot, Asma Jaber and her fiancée Sami Jitan,want to create a time portal—on your phone. The app aims to bring glimpses of history to your smartphone screen, using images tied to wherever you happen to be. Users receive notifications when they’re near a “pivot” point; raising the phone brings up an image of that place as it appeared from that vantage point decades ago.

Jaber reveals that her inspiration for creating the app was personal, “I wanted to create a way to let people see what my father’s village looked like in the past”. Jaber’s Palestinian father lived in Nazareth and, later, in a village north of Ramallah. Her father, determined to preserve his homeland in the family’s imagination, often told stories about life there and took Jaber to visit the places of his childhood. “He showed me the house where he was born, the school he went to in the old city of Jerusalem, where he hiked as a Boy Scout,” she said. “It was very powerful.” When her father died years later, Jaber felt like she not only lost a parent, but a guide to her ancestral homeland.

Jaber, a recent graduate of Harvard’s school of public policy, and Jitan started developing Pivot last spring. With help from two computer science students from Harvard and MIT, they created a prototype that won an entrepreneurship contest at the Harvard Innovation Lab, which helped them continue developing the project.

The duo hopes Pivot could become a historical preservation platform.