Google’s “Physical Web” suggests URLs, Not apps, are the future of the Internet of Things.
“The Physical Web is a discovery service: a smart object broadcasts relevant URLs that any nearby device can receive,” says the ReadMe file on the Physical Web page. “Our core premise is that you should be able to walk up to any ‘smart’ physical object (e.g. a vending machine, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car) and interact with it without first downloading an app.
The user experience of smart objects should be much like links in a web browser: i.e., just tap and use.”
The Physical Web helps users discover URLs relevant to their surroundings
via Eddystone bluetooth low-energy beacons.
Last year, Chrome for iOS took an initial step in supporting the Physical Web, and the community has already begun exploring promising applications. Starting in version 49, Chrome for Android will also surface Physical Web content, making these experiences available to an even larger audience.
As Physical Web-enabled beacons are becoming more widespread, developers are experimenting with the platform in various ways.
One Physical Web demo posted by a Mozilla community contributor shows users how to use bluetooth beacons to discover and interact with a drone. Brookwood Middle School uses beacons from TSI Beacon Affiliate to circulate class notes, sports accomplishments, and news updates. Radius Networks, a beacon manufacturer, recently deployed 1,500 beacons to help attendees of CES
When these users walk by a beacon for the first time, they’ll receive a notification allowing them to enable the Physical Web. On future encounters with beacons, users can quickly see a list of nearby URLs by tapping on a non-vibrating notification waiting for them.
WE HAVE THE NEWEST CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGY OF ALL THE
BEACONS YOU NEED WORKING IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE PHYSICAL WEB
Walk up and use anything
Some great insight on how the Physical Web works By Scott Jenson / Product Strategy at Google
San Francisco Bay Area Design
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If you haven’t heard of this, a brief and very coarse summary is that it’s the idea of transmitting URLs from beacon devices, commonly using low-energy Bluetooth (BLE).
Current beacon schemes are largely based on Apple’s iBeacon protocol, which transmits a unique ID that requires an app receiver to decode and turn into an action.
The Physical Web’s difference is that URL transmission requires no app, decentralising the process.
Making any device able to transmit a URL is rich with possibilities: from super low-friction discoverability of information about nearby places (imagine a page of search results showing only the things immediately around you), to immediate interaction with nearby physical objects.