Some of us are fortunate enough to have a window with a view to help us cope with being inside so much. For those who aren’t so lucky, a new site called WindowSwap can help by letting you cycle through other people’s picturesque views from all over the world.
WindowSwap is a quarantine project by Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam that lets you use your browser to watch a video of a window and its unique view from different locations across the globe. There are scenes from all over: there’s a rainy street in Thailand, a small field with a gentle breeze on a sunny day in Austria, a mountain view from Switzerland, a busy street in London, a view over a boardwalk and the ocean in Japan, a cat watching birds in Qatar, a view of the city skyline in Singapore, and my personal favorite so far: an almost panoramic view of of the ocean from Oahu.
The videos are prerecorded, which you might notice if you happen to land on the same window a day apart, and submitted by users. The site asks for 10-minute HD videos of “your window and frame,” along with the creator’s name and location. “Horizontal, vertical, square, round or decorative, all kinds of windows are welcome!” the site reads. Going the prerecorded route, instead of using live webcams, is probably smart to prevent the site from turning into something similar to Omegle.
There’s something very positive about the experience. Strangers are taking their time to share their favorite watching spot to help those who might not have one (or are just tired of their own). It is a small gesture of kindness and reminder of the positive ways the internet can make the world feel smaller. I enjoy not just the view but also imagining what the person sharing is like based on the few clues that can be gathered on their space and the choice of scenery to record.
That doesn’t mean all of the windows look out at beautiful landscapes, though. There’s one from Shanghai, China, where we are angled down looking at a narrow street as a man hangs laundry. Oddly, the camera is handheld and moves around following the person. There’s another from London where we see a row of cacti on a window sill that is in focus, while the trees viewed through the window in the distance are out of focus. Not to say these are bad, but they’re interesting choices.
The good news is that there are lots of windows and lots of views. So if one isn’t what you need at that moment, you can just move on to the next. Now if only we could save our favorites to come back to quickly in the future…