Google’s New Project, The Physical Web, Allows Interaction On Demand



Google has launched a new project on GitHub that is seeking to allow you to interact with any smart device through the Google mobile Chrome browser. Google’s Scott Jenson explains The Physical Web as a tool to be used when native applications “just aren’t practical.” The Times of India reports the project “seeks to do away with native applications” but that’s not what Google’s intent is here.

The idea here is to make machine to device interactions happen without opening an application. Some of Google’s examples are, “a bus stop that tells you the next bus arrival; parking meters and vending machines that let you pay quickly and easily via your mobile device; a ZipCar that broadcasts a signup page as you walk by, thereby allowing you to immediately register and drive away.” Another possibility is Redbox locations that send  you inventory information without having to open the Redbox app to locate a kiosk then browsing for movies. You can read Google’s GitHub introduction to The Physical Web below. This is an interesting concept and one I’m sure we’ll be following as it grows. Head over to GitHub to read more about the project. What do you think of The Physical Web? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

The Physical Web

The Physical Web is an approach to unleash the core super power of the web: interaction on demand. People should be able to walk up to any smart device: e.g. a vending machine, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car, and not have to download an app first in order to use it. The user experience of using smart devices should be much like we use links on web, just tap and use.

The Physical Web is, at its base, a discovery service where URLs are broadcast and any nearby device can receive them. This takes the web we know and love and unlocks exciting new ways to interact.

The URL is the fundamental building block of the web, giving remarkable flexibility of expression. It can be:

  • a web page with just a tiny paragraph of info
  • a fully interactive web page
  • a deep link into a native application

Why We’re Doing This

The number of smart devices is going to explode, both in our homes and in public spaces. Much like the web, there is going to be a ‘long tail’ of interactivity for smart devices. But the overhead of installing an app for each one just doesn’t scale. We need a system that lets someone walk up and use a device with just a tap. The Physical web isn’t about replacing native apps, it’s about allowing interaction for the times when native apps just aren’t practical.

Open Design

The Physical Web must be an open standard that everyone can use. This can’t be a product that is locked down by a single company. Like many web specifications, this is an open source design that is being released early so everyone can experiment and comment on it. There is much to discuss and add to this specification.

Sources: Time of India and GitHub

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