This is a moon idea (in the spirit of Google’s moon projects) for a connected downtown. It uses Mountain View as an example not because it’s Google’s headquarters but because it’s my home town and I’m most familiar with how it works.
A typical day
I’ve decided to drive today… it doesn’t happen very often and I’m starting to miss the monster. The console at home is telling that the day is going to be nice, in the upper 70s and that I should prepare for a cooler night. The forecast says it’ll be 50 by 10pm tonight.
The car monitor reminds me that my oil change is past due and makes an appointment for me on Saturday morning after 10am. I park near city hall so I can still get a walk on my way to the coffee shop. As I walk past the Performing Arts Center my phone tells me that they are doing a revival of “The Book of Mormon” and that the next play will be the touring company for “Rent”. I use my phone to buy tickets for Rent, I have already seen Mormon.
As I walk past restaurants I’m flashed with menus and specials only for the kind of food I like, my phone already knows my preferences. When I walk by my optometrist’s office I’m reminded that I need to get a new pair of glasses and that I should schedule the appointment soon or I’ll have to get a new eye exam.
My favorite sushi place has a special promotion in addition to their happy hour special. I may consider coming back for dinner.
As I look at my phone more and more stores send me information about what they are offering both their specials for today and the usual ‘you should buy here and not in the huge local chains’ advertisement.
I get to the coffee shop. There’s new art today and they tell me everything about it and about the artist who created it. I get a digital gallery of the exhibit and a link to the artist’s website. I’m also notified that the nook on the second floor has been reserved for the afternoon and that there’s been a change on the music schedule for tonight. I shrug, wasn’t planning on staying anyways, as I move to order my coffee.
The vignete above may sound very science fiction but it is much closer to reality than what you may think. Technologies like iBeacon or Google’s Physical Web offer ways to have physical spaces communicate with users and provide an online experience beyond what they already have and do online.
The whole idea relies on beacons, physical objects that you place in the space where you want to broadcast information from. Some of these beacons can be used outdoors (say by the door of your business or office) and others are designed to be used indoors (to give you department news and cupons when you visit a retailer like Target or a mall like Valley Fair or The Mall of America.)
Dreaming through the noise
Now imagine that we can create apps (web or native) that processes the data from these beacons and, based on stated preferences, gives us only those items that are relevant to us in the form of a URL list or a brief snippet of each item in a simple card based layout.