Google is launching a new project that aims to make interactions with everyday things like parking meters and vending machines with your smartphone even easier than it already is now.
It’s an initiative that could prove to be a marketer’s dream.
While fairly easy to do, the problem with all these kind of smartphone interactions at the moment is that you need a different app to pay for your parking, then another to see when the bus is going to arrive and another still to order a soda from the vending machine while you wait. It’s time consuming and most people only ever use a handful of apps on their phone.
Google is hoping its new “Physical Web” initiative will make the need to download all these different apps obsolete. It wants you to just be able to walk up to an object and be able to interact with it straight away as soon as you open the app — with the added ability to opt in for notifications from your favourite things.
The new project allows companies to create web addresses for any of their physical objects, entering into a new open ecosystem for smart devices, allowing them to broadcast URLs via a Bluetooth beacon into the area around them. On the user’s side, they just need to download a a simple Android or iOS app that will link in to all these smart objects.
Google says it will use its tech to weight the URLs against a phone’s signal strength and potentially with a user’s preferences or search histories. It may also apply its algorithms to rank URLs based on the most-used objects.
There’s clear advantages of an open Internet of things standard from a marketing perspective.
Google itself suggests that the idea make brands help people get things done that bit easier — like a Zipcar broadcasting a signup page so you can drive away in seconds, enabling mobile payments so you won’t keep having to dig in your pocket for change to get a Pepsi and finding out that “Mike’s Pizza” place next-door has a Monday offer on.
The idea of your phone automatically linking into other devices as it passes them does throw up security implications. But Google says user tracking will be avoided by allowing smartphones to pick up all the URL broadcasts without actually talking back to the beacons themselves. Google, poetically, says the idea is for a user to “walk through a space and leave not trace.” The smart devices are talking, but they’re not listening.
The “internet of things” has been a popular topic in the advertising and tech world for some years. Having an open standard for thousands of different devices to click into may help move the idea from concept to reality.
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