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How to Travel Around the World with your Smartphone

Updated on May 6, 2015

Good Sci Fi Movies

I was just asking the other day if there were any good sci fi movies when someone in Rome, Italy replied with a list. That got me thinking about the hit movie Jumper where the main character Griffin was using his teleportation skills to jump around the world. He eventually took his girlfriend to the Colosseo in Rome but he gets noticed and chased down.

Travelling around the world is on everybody's bucket list. Before putting on your seatbelt, I will assure you that this is nothing to do with teleporting yourself like Griffin in the 2008 movie, Jumper. It is not fantasy or make believe. It is technology and it is available now in early 2015.

Have you ever caught yourself saying how nice it would be to be a 'fly on the wall'? Well, that's how it feels. When you select a session, you're clued in to a community. It probably feels like Griffin stepping into a scene. Sometimes, it is in English. Other times, it is in Italian or Turkish or Dutch. That's when it gets interesting.

In Thin Air

Grab your smartphone and go to the App Store if you have an iOS device and search for 'Periscope'. When you find it, tap on it and download the app to your device. When it completes downloading, tap on it to launch the app.

Before you can use the app, you have to sign on. The easiest way to do this is to let it use your Twitter account.

When the app starts up, tap on the second icon at the bottom of the screen for 'Global'. A list of places will display. Tonight, I have people from around the world including:

  • Tampa, FL
  • Perth, Australia
  • Freeport, Grand Bahamas
  • City of Westminster, England
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Rome, Italy

To 'jump' to any of these destinations, tap on the feed and you will be connected. When you join a conversation, be sure to greet the broadcaster. Say hello and tell them where you are. A lot of people say things like 'Hi from Washington' or 'Shout out to Australia'. This gives them some idea of who is on board and what to expect.

I joined a conversation in a small town in Holland the other day. The broadcaster had a day off and was driving around town. I told him I knew two things about Holland and that was tulips and windmills. He asked us if we were interested in seeing a windmill and if so, he would drive by one. We tapped the screen and it sent hearts to his device telling him that we appreciate his gesture. In a few minutes, he directed our attention to a windmill behind a truck that was beside him in his car. The windmill was obscured but later, it was in plain sight. Someone from Seattle asked if anyone lived there and he replied that a Turkish family rented the place out and used it as their home. The windmill portion was not used for some time but it remained as a novelty to tourists.

One thing fascinating about this is that you can find out how life is on the other side of the world. When in Holland, the landscape looked familiar. I even compared it to home and asked about the price of gas, crime rate and population. I learned a little more about Holland that I never knew before.

I often check Periscope for anyone walking the streets of London or Rome. I've been to both cities before and absolutely love both places. It takes me back to fond memories of my travels when I 'jump' into these cities. Last week, I visited Rome with a tourist who was walking to the Colloseum and was broadcasting his walk on Periscope. I asked questions about the amount of people on the streets and whether there were any gypsies. Rome is notorious for bands of gypsies who rob tourists of their cameras, cellphones and passports. When asked, the tourist replied that he saw an old woman begging for a dime. I told him to go over to her and drop her a coin. He did. The old woman turned and looked into his camera and smiled.

Colosseo in Rome is where the gladiators slaughtered live animals for entertainment purposes.
Colosseo in Rome is where the gladiators slaughtered live animals for entertainment purposes.

Have you been to Rome, Italy before?

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What is Periscope?

If this is your first time using Periscope then let me have the honour of explaining it to you. Periscope is the making of two geniuses named Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein. When it surfaced, Twitter was reported at purchasing it for $100 million in early 2015.

Basically, Periscope is a live video streaming app for iOS (ie. Apple devices only). It allows broadcasters to enable their viewing to the public or to select friends and families.

See the Blue Man Group or Roger Federer

Broadcasters are not limited to showing you live video of travel destinations and some have been broadcasting sporting events and shows. Last night, I watched a stream of the Blue Man Group performance in Las Vegas. Someone was streaming live video from the theatre as 55 of us watched the intro. He eventually ended the stream, probably when security told him to shut off his phone. Also, I watched the dancing waters at the Bellagio in Las Vegas from 16 floors up when the broadcaster was standing outside on his balcony. Too bad the music was being drown out by the wind.

Was anyone watching Roger Federer as he plays World's No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final match at the BNP Paribas? From above the stadium, periscope user broadcasts the last few minutes of the match when Roger simply ran out of gas. He threw everything at Djokovic and couldn't defeat him. All Roger wanted to do was to pack his bags and leave the desert. Tired and frustrated, he received the runner up trophy and smiled to the crowd.

I can see concerts and local bar performances showing up real soon. Perhaps, we can discover new talent instead of waiting for them to win on the Voice or American Idol. The cool thing about Periscope is that the broadcaster gets live feedback from the audience. Good or bad comments will be made and reaction from the broadcaster can be made ad hoc and in real time.

BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, CA where top tennis players like Roger Federer competes. Source: My own collection.
BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, CA where top tennis players like Roger Federer competes. Source: My own collection.

Watch a Sunset on the Other Side of the World

One advantage of Periscope is that you are watching the video as though you were there. The images showing up is in real time (perhaps 5 seconds off) making it a live performance. Imagine sitting on the beach in Maui, Hawaii as the sun is setting. You see the palm trees swaying and hear the sounds of the ocean as you see the sun drop into the ocean.

While watching the video, you can ask questions. The magical thing that happens is when the person holding the camera answers you in spoken language. It is almost as you are there.

Watching a sunset as it happens in Maui, HI
Watching a sunset as it happens in Maui, HI

Have you been to Pompeii?

The other day, I was watching a feed from a tourist who was visiting Pompeii. Remember, Pompeii was buried from volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius exploded. I asked the tourist if he could walk and find a fresco that was still intact. He walked down the cobblestones and found a residence with a wall decorated with a fresco. He put his camera up to the light and we could see the intricate detail of the fresco. Hearts floated up from the bottom of the screen to show our appreciation.

See a Fresco in Pompeii

Fresco on the wall in Pompeii, Italy
Fresco on the wall in Pompeii, Italy

Hong Kong

Tonight I joined a long list of viewers to see Hong Kong from the 100th floor of a building in Kowloon. The periscope member lived in Hong Kong and broadcasted a view from Hong Kong Island. You could see boats in the harbour and a beautiful landscape of the city.

In the photo below, you can see that there were 131 viewers like me. Every time someone tapped on their screen, a heart would float up from the right. This tells the broadcaster that they 'like' the feed.

Hong Kong from the 100th floor
Hong Kong from the 100th floor

Summary

I hope you download the Periscope app and join the Periscope community to enjoy visiting places from your smartphone.

Please leave a comment on what you've seen or your thoughts on this app.

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