Bluetooth is an amazing technology that allows us to communicate with the devices. Bluetooth has been around for a long time but with introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), we have seen a massive rise in a number of bluetooth devices around us, from Headphones to heart rate monitors, all are based on BLE. BLE is great for modern devices because it is not only cheap but it uses very little power, lasting up to 5 to 8 years. Soon everything from parking meter to the snack vending machines, all will have a bluetooth chip inside.
Now there is one common problem, to interact with these devices, users need its own native app. Imagine an app for each parking meter or every vending machine in front of you. Shortly, the number of apps in your phones will become un-manageable. More importantly it sounds silly to download an app for the petty things that are to be used once or twice. Wouldn’t it be great if all these can work directly from a webpage?
Nowadays nearly everyone has internet in their pocket and has access of all the world’s information at their fingertips. However interacting with that information isn’t that easy. Thats where comes the Physical Web. It is an early stage experimental project that allows users to discover devices around them. Using BLE, objects can broadcast an URL that the physical web pics up and presents to the user, eg. a painting in the museum can broadcast a link to video of its curator or a parking meter can broadcast a link to a website where you can pay for a parking.
How Physical Web Works
- Firstly, there is a object with BLE which broadcasts a signal once every second. Such a device can run for up to 5 years on a single charge.
- Then, there is a simple scanner on the smartphone that looks around whenever it is on. It won’t scan anything automatically until you switch it on.
- If the scanner discovers something, it would give you a list to choose from. Such list is ranked and filtered to reduce spam, and bring the most relevant content to the top.
- Select the one that’s of your choice and it opens a web page, just like the way you do it with web search results.
The reason of using URLs is that they are well understood and flexible. They can point to simple web page of information, an interactive web app or a deep link into a native application in your phone.
In a way the physical web concept is similar to that of QR codes but the physical web offers some key advantages.
- The Physical Web will eventually be part of your smart phone, there is no need for users to download an app.
- It is more convenient, users need not to wait to snap a QR code on the code detector.
- User can seamlessly discover devices and objects around and interact.
But the question remains how do you connect with them? This is where Web Bluetooth comes in. Web Bluetooth, allow users to seamlessly connect with devices without installing an app. It uses same band of 40 channels to transmit with 3 for the process of advertising and 37 for data communication. Also Web Bluetooth is new way forward to make cross platform web apps eliminating native apps being made for different platforms for same use.
Idea behind Physical Web is objects can broadcast URL wirelessly to the area around them. Anyone with a phone or a tablet nearby can scan the area, pick an object and interact with it on the spot. Unlike most apps today, the Physical Web enables very small interaction things that you had never consider using an app for.
The Physical Web is just an extension of the existing web. Because it uses URLs as the core building block, the entire system is decentralized, so nobody controls it. With the discovery of web pages made frictionless, we are excited to be part of this game changing arena.
Our dedicated Team at LetsNurture, constantly strives to connect the world and make things less complicated with best use of technology. If you need a BLE solution at your place, get in touch with our team here. Don’t forget to share with us your views over the Physical Web.