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Brief Published: 8 Oct 2014

The Physical Web: 'Walk Up & Use Anything'

Instant interactions

Google has launched an experimental project to let people interact with connected objects instantly on their mobile and wearable devices – without having to download or open an app first.

The Physical Web project aims to build a universal platform for everyday interactions with the growing network of connected devices known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Instead of each smart device having a proprietary app, every smart object would get its own simple webpage that automatically pops up on nearby mobile and wearable devices, thanks to Bluetooth beacon technology.

Brands would be able to offer instant access to shoppable services without the need for expensive app development, or indeed coaxing users to download their apps in the first place. For users, it offers the ability to check offers from shop windows, pay for parking, get bus times, or buy gig tickets from a smart poster – all in the same way. The project is open source to encourage universal uptake.

Earlier this year, Stylus' Consumer Lifestyle team interviewed scientists at Bristol University's Interaction and Graphics Group. Diego Martinez, one of the scientists behind the Sensabubble, described this type of "walk up and use" interaction as the "holy grail" of tech design. Read more from the interview in Beyond Wearables, part of our Post-Digital Macro Trend.

For more on the potential of Bluetooth beacons in retail, see Sales-Boosting Beacons and Start-Pause-Go: Retail in Hyper-Flow – part of the new Roaming Retail Industry Trend.