The Physical Web is a tool to manage through the complexity of the Internet of Things. It can connect any physical object to the web and render them smart with the help of portable devices called UriBeacons that broadcast URL signals, and the Eddystone™ format, explained here. Ultimately, it intends to let us control, navigate and sort various smart objects in the physical world surrounding us.
How Do You Get Started?
1. Get your UriBeacons.
If you don’t have them yet, buy them here.
2. Get the app.
Download the app, available in AppStore and Google Play.
3. Set up your UriBeacons.
Configure your custom URL for each device by using the app.
4. Put your beacons in configuration mode.
Please undo the screws on the back side of your beacons, then press the button as seen on the right to put your beacons in configuration mode.
How Does the Physical Web work?
It is an Open Ecosystem.
Physical Web involves creating an open ecosystem where PW devices can broadcast URLs in the area around them.
Works with Bluetooth Smart.
Users will be able to walk up to any physical device – a vending machine, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car – and not have to download an app first.
A search engine for the physical world.
A ranked list of URLs is shown by a combination of proximity, signal strength, user preferences and browsing history.
Users offered URLs, not apps
Each PW device corresponds to a counterpart physical device and assigns them a URL. Nearby smart devices see the URLs and offer them up to the user.
Where can it work?
Users can search for a vending machine, select the product and even pay for it.
When does the bus arrive? Am I at the right stop? Which routes does the bus take?
Control your drones, using only your phone.
Movie Posters, Billboards
Show extras, trivias, previews… posters are going smart too!
Many possibilities, many opportunities. Let’s see what our smart devices can do.
Bringing the web into the real world.
Ask us more questions so we can enrich this section.
Who built the Physical Web?
No one yet. It is being built right now as you are reading this. The Physical Web is an open source experimental project that Google announced in October 2014. We invite the developers, web designers, programmers and practically anyone who is interested in experimenting with the IoT to join us in shaping up the Physical Web. In brief, together we will assign online features to physical objects. The Physical Web is simply an extension of the web we know today. It is the web that extends into the physical world. The purpose is to develop the best means that will help us conduct the Internet of Things. Google initiates a scheme where we will use the IoT through a browsing and ranking mechanism on mobile devices, much like searching the web today. How it will end up depends on the participators to this project. Contribute to the argument. The opportunities are yours to imagine and realize.
What platforms does the Physical Web support?
The Physical Web is meant to be ubiquitously accessible. We want it to reach out everywhere the web touches. So it needs to work on every platform possible. The Blesh PW App is compatible with both Android and iOS to start with. As the Physical Web grows, we hope to make it even more widely accessible, extend it out to other platforms and diversify the user experience.
How will we manage the privacy and protection of the smart devices at home?
The PW devices broadcast URLs out in the clear by design. That is why Google recommends that they initially be used in public spaces where broadcasting a URL does not raise privacy concerns. On the other hand, it raises concerns when it comes to domestic usage where we want to avoid letting our neighbours gain access to our personal smart devices. Luckily there are many ways to increase a URL’s privacy and security. Here are a few that Google puts forth. You may want to come up with more creative tricks come around • The URL could be obfuscated (e.g. using a non-branded domain) • The web page could require a login • A rotating token on the PW device would constantly change the URL • The URL could reference an IP address that is only accessible when connected to a local network.
Can the Physical Web be used for user tracking?
Currently each PW device broadcasts a URL via Bluetooth Smart. The user’s phone gathers this info without connecting to the device. This ensures that the user remains invisible to all devices. A silent user cannot be tracked simply by walking past a broadcasting beacon. However, once the user does click on a URL, they are then known to that website. This info can be used to improve the experience of ranking nearby smart objects in the future.
How does the Physical Web compare to the QR Codes?
To make use of QR codes, you have to walk up to each and every object and separately introduce them to your mobile device. The Physical Web is conceived to avoid this hassle that does not scale to the number of physical devices we will soon find around us. With the Physical Web, instead of separately using individual codes (or apps), your mobile device will swiftly list and rank all of the objects around you that have an online action to take.