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Websigns: Hyperlinking Physical Locations to the Web
August 2001 (vol. 34 no. 8)
pp. 42-48

First-generation mobile computing technologies typically use protocols such as WAP and i-mode to let PDAs, smart phones, and other wireless devices with Web browsers access the Internet, thereby freeing users from the shackles of their desktops. Users could, the authors assert, benefit from having access to devices that combine the advantages of wireless technology and ubiquitous computing to provide a transparent linkage between the physi-cal world around them and the resources available on the Web.

In the CoolTown research program at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, the authors are building ubiquitous computing systems that sense physical entities in the environment and map them to a Web browser. The websign system provides an alternative way to map e-services using a simple form of augmented reality. Typical augmented reality systems require users to wear a cumbersome see-through head-mounted display to view computer-generated images imposed on the physical environment. In contrast, the websign system uses commonly available Internet-enabled wireless devices such as PDAs or smart phones equipped with client software, a positioning system such as GPS, and a digital compass to visualize services for physical entities.

From a deployment perspective, the system is more scalable for outdoor applications than using physical short-range beacons. The lack of commonly available and deployed indoor positioning technologies has hindered indoor deployment, but the authors are currently evaluating a promising technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for use as the underlying indoor positioning system. They are also conducting further user studies that explore how to better augment reality with virtual beacons and tags.

Citation:
Salil Pradhan, Cyril Brignone, Jun-Hong Cui, Alan McReynolds, Mark T. Smith, "Websigns: Hyperlinking Physical Locations to the Web," Computer, vol. 34, no. 8, pp. 42-48, Aug. 2001, doi:10.1109/2.940012
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