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I have happily wasted so much time just hitting refresh on this incredible website

Published Aug 8th, 2020 1:45PM EDT
Coronavirus quarantine

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  • One couple from Singapore, fed up with their coronavirus quarantine a few months ago, decided to get creative and launch a website that satisfies the wanderlust in us all since most of us can’t travel right now.
  • The result was “WindowSwap,” a site that presents visitors with video snippets of what you see when looking through the windows in peoples’ homes from around the world.
  • The submissions have come everywhere from Giza to Brooklyn, and so many points in between.

About two months ago, during what they describe as the strictest part of the coronavirus quarantine in Singapore, Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam were starting to get restless and feel “a little antsy” in the couples’ one-bedroom apartment.

Scrolling through their Instagram feed one day, they spied a post from a friend who lives in Barcelona. He’d shared an image of the view from his window, looking out into the northeastern Spanish city he calls home. “I remember he was complaining about being bored of it — he was under lockdown too, of course — but it looked incredible to us,” Ranjit told BGR via email. “We were joking about how we wished we could just swap places with him … when we came up with the idea. If we couldn’t swap places, perhaps we could swap window views. And pretend we were somewhere else for a while.”

Pretending to be somewhere else for a while was the motivation behind “WindowSwap,” a website these two creatives, along with freelance developer Maryam Touimi Benjelloun, decided to launch back in June. The idea is for people around the world to shoot 10-minute video clips from the perspective of looking through a window in their home or apartment, and to submit these to the couple’s site. So far, hundreds of people around the world have done so (all you have to do is email a horizontal, HD video that includes your window and frame to, and the results offer a welcome escape, however brief, from the feeling of being stuck at home, wherever you happen to be in the world.

The best way to enjoy the site, in my opinion, is on a big, expansive computer screen. And make sure your sound is turned on. As you cycle through the respective video snippets, you may even find yourself feeling a strange bit of relief. You’ll see people carrying groceries down the street. Cars sputtering by. A cat nestled beside a typewriter in the warm glow of the sun. “So this is what it’s like to live in British Columbia, Canada,” I find myself musing, staring out of “Kaslow’s Window” (they’re all labeled with the submitter’s name) at the sublime vista of a lake with trees and hills all around. This one from Giza especially blew me away:

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I tap the button at the bottom of the screen to cycle to the next “window,” and I’m greeted with “Taylor’s Window,” which overlooks an intersection in Brooklyn. You see bicyclists, pedestrians, cars driving by shops, and it’s all so boring and so beautiful at the same time, because the one thing you do not see, looking through these submitted window views? There’s no sign of the coronavirus pandemic that’s killed more than 719,000 people as of late Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. It’s just boring signs of ordinary life, something that can trick you, if you let it, into shaking off your coronavirus-induced malaise even for just a few moments to remind yourself that life, indeed, goes on.

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The couple told me that since launching the “WindowSwap” site, they’ve received more than 3,000 submissions. “People seem to love it for various reasons,” Ranjit said. “It soothes them, or gives them a sense (of) peace or it satisfies their inner voyeur. Some mentioned that it helps with their homesickness. Others say (it) helps make up a little for their canceled travel plans.

“We are so happy to have touched so many people around the world.”

coronavirus quarantineImage source:

All I know is — Adam, from wherever you are in Derbyshire in the East Midlands of England (according to the ID of that particular window view above), I’m hoping you’ll do us all a solid and upload more of your window views, with more of that bucolic English countryside. It looks, to this quarantined American, like utter paradise on Earth.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.