The physical web arrives – here’s why it will change your life

Products that can work together and not be tied into any one company’s ecosystem. However, the agent running on the phone would provide the order, sorting and ranking those URLs based on signal strength, preferences and history. It’s a ‘use it and lose it’ approach to interaction that would encourage entirely new product categories and usage models. Most importantly, it would filter out spam and malicious sites. Most of us are looking at the world through entirely app-coloured glasses. When you were done, you’d just walk away with nothing left behind on your phone. It’s that simple. A summary
The Physical Web has two goals:
Make interacting with smart devices as simple and fast as possible
Provide a universal and open means for all devices to be found
It’s possible to achieve both of these aims using just URLs and web pages. We need this simple physical extension into the real world to begin this journey. While it’s clearly not as fancy as native applications, for the majority of these simple service examples, the web is perfectly adequate. Much like the web, there is no centralised server: any device can broadcast any URL. Like so many simple ideas, there are many additional issues yet to discuss, but the goal of the Physical Web is simple: create an open system for all devices to broadcast a URL. In its most straightforward form, a URL would link to a web page, but it could just as easily deep-link into a native application or even provide access to RESTful functionality. This process is massively open and, to be honest, a bit chaotic. We are currently using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) as a ‘broadcaster’ because this system is ubiquitous and cheap. The problem
We already have a universal system of information and interaction: the web. With the cost of microprocessors plummeting, we’re in a situation where nearly any consumer device can become ‘smart’. A   URL is particularly useful to build upon as   it’s so flexible. Not only does this not scale, it is politically impossible – no one would allow all of the world’s devices to be   controlled by a single company. Let’s bring one of the most transformative technologies of our lives – the web – into our physical world so we can build a new generation of products. Its   undeniable superpower is to provide interaction on demand. We need this simple physical extension into the real world to begin this journey

Broadcasters and agents create a two-part ecosystem. But while it’s a deceptively simple idea, at the moment we don’t even allow ourselves to consider it. Just like you can visit any website with a tap, the same could be true for any nearby smart device. Too many Internet of Things solutions today assume everything must go through a single centralised server.

Updated: 22.11.2014 — 17:18