31-10-2018

Spacetime Layers: the youngest startup in the world

What started as a school project, is now an ambitious digital platform backed by UNESCO. During the Let’s Gro festival, Spacetime launched the newest version of their app: Spacetime Layers. The app is a location based platform for education, cultural heritage and serious gaming and was originally designed by elementary school students in Groningen.

Exploring the history of a city, checking the line-up during festivals or going on digital scavenger hunts, it’s all possible with the Spacetime Layers. Users can select layers in the app provided by all kinds of organizations, and do things like go on an AR city tour or join a location based game.

The youngest startup in the world

The first version of the app was a digital time capsule, where you could for example record video messages and pick the time and place when someone would receive that message. In other words, the app allowed you to send messages to your future self. Patrick Trentelman, a teacher, thought it would be a cool project for his students: “I thought it was a great way to teach kids about history and teach them digital skills at the same time.”

“We launched our first version during Let’s Gro last year and I was a little overwhelmed by all the sudden interest”, Trentelman continues. “We also realized that, as a platform, it has so many possible applications. Other schools, ranging from vocational to higher education were very interested in using the app, so it sort of grew from a school project into an actual startup.”

Festivals, games and education

Any organization, whether it’s a school, cultural heritage foundation, festival or even a game publisher, can add any type of content to the location based platform. Users can select the type of content their interested in and add it as a layer. “When you visit a museum or a city, it’s a lot of hassle to download a specific app, which you’re probably only going to use once. So instead of having all these different apps, we provide a single interactive platform for that and the opportunities are endless”, Trentelman says.

Arlington & UNESCO

There are some cool things on the horizon for Spacetime Layers too: “The Hanze University is working together with the University of Texas at Arlington, using the platform”, Trentelman says. “Several history and heritage foundations have started using it and Noordhoff Publishers will use our app for an educational pilot with 40,000 students. UNESCO is also very interested!”

But is Trentelman ready to switch careers and become an entrepreneur instead of a teacher? “Spacetime is actually already registered as a company. I now teach two days a week and the rest of my time goes into Spacetime. It’s a big step and scary at times, and I’m also working hard on finding the right people to work with and turn this into a success.”

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