Virtual Travel
The view from WindowSwap user Simone's window in Villongo, Italy (Courtesy of Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam / Coded by Maryam Touimi Benjelloun)

This Website Highlights Views Outside Windows Across the World

The WindowSwap project provides a virtual travel opportunity for those sheltering in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic

smithsonianmag.com
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | July 16, 2020, 3:02 p.m.

With travel restrictions still in place, many would-be tourists are seeking out safe, socially distant options for getting a much-needed change of scenery. Luckily, a new digital venture is here to help: Instead of staring longingly out of your own window, simply visit the WindowSwap portal to see views shared by strangers around the world.

In Aeschiried, Switzerland, potted plants and leafy vines frame a lush mountain scene dotted with red-roofed barns. Cars stream through a busy intersection in Mexico City. Makeup brushes, notebooks and a pink face mask line a desk in Glasgow, Scotland. The sun sets low behind the silvery New York skyline, as seen from Long Island.

Singapore-based couple Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam initially started WindowSwap as a quarantine project among friends, reports Poppy Noor for the Guardian. In June, the pair expanded the project to include online submissions.

The view from WindowSwap user Ula's window in Doha, Qatar (Courtesy of Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam / Coded by Maryam Touimi Benjelloun)
WindowSwap user Jiyan's view from his window in Istanbul, Turkey (Courtesy of Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam / Coded by Maryam Touimi Benjelloun)

As noted on the website’s “About” page, “WindowSwap is here to fill that deep void in our wanderlust hearts by allowing us to look through someone else’s window, somewhere in the world, for a while. [It is] a place on the internet where all we travel hungry fools share our ‘window views’ to help each other feel a little bit better till we can (responsibly) explore our beautiful planet again.”

Travelers can navigate to different continents instantaneously by clicking a button labeled “Open a new window somewhere in the world.” Short video clips appear at random, highlighting such diverse locales as Sankt Augustin, Germany; Glanamman, Wales; Bangalore, India; Istanbul, Turkey; Singapore; Cordoba, Argentina; Okinawa, Japan; San Francisco; and São Paulo, Brazil.

“I feel they have so much character, and it’s the beauty of this thing we started, that continues to transform,” Balasubramaniam tells the Guardian.

The view from WindowSwap user Rexina's window in Bangalore, India (Courtesy of Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam / Coded by Maryam Touimi Benjelloun)
Hawaii
View from WindowSwap user Denny's window in Honolulu, Hawaii (Courtesy of Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam / Coded by Maryam Touimi Benjelloun)

To share the view from their own windows, users must record a ten-minute, horizontal video clip.

“All kinds of windows are welcome,” the husband and wife note on their site.

Per the Guardian, Ranjit and Balasubramaniam have already received hundreds of videos filmed in dozens of countries. Submissions range from grainy recordings of small-town neighborhoods to high-definition city views captured by tech-savvy teenagers. An 81-year-old woman living in Massachusetts didn’t know how to submit a video, but she sent a “beautiful photo” instead.

The view from WindowSwap user Maggie's window in Copenhagen, Denmark (Courtesy of Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam / Coded by Maryam Touimi Benjelloun)
Switzerland
View of WindowSwap user Lina's window in Aeschiried, Switzerland (Courtesy of Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam / Coded by Maryam Touimi Benjelloun)

The WindowSwap project is one of countless virtual travel experiences that have popped up since the coronavirus pandemic forced people around the world to shelter in place. Anyone with a device and internet access can take video tours of Frank Lloyd Wright homes around the country, join virtual dog sledding rides, explore some of the world’s most renowned museums, and even walk around the surface of Mars. Take Me elsewhere, a similarly window-themed website, sets virtual views to music, reports Aaron Holmes for Business Insider.

Like many artists and at-home innovators, the founders of WindowSwap created their campaign to encourage people to continue exploring and sharing from afar.

“Let’s face it, it’s going to be a while before we travel again, and wake up to a new view outside our windows,” Ranjit tells Jessica Goodfellow of Campaign Asia-Pacific. “So, until then, why not voyeuristically travel by looking out of somebody else’s window for a while?”

Singapore
The view from WindowSwap user Syl's window in Singapore (Courtesy of Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam / Coded by Maryam Touimi Benjelloun)
Claire Bugos About the Author: Claire Bugos is a journalist and former print intern at Smithsonian magazine. She is a recent graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and history. Read more articles from Claire Bugos and

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus