Daily Dose of iQ: Google's 'Physical Web' to Let Users Connect Devices Without an App

Oct 02, 2014 — Diana Thomson

VentureBeat reported today that Google is working on a project, called "Physical Web," which would let smart devices (phones, watches, beacons, etc.) connect without the need for an app.

Not having to download an app before being able to tap/access the data from a smart device would be huge. With all the potential for the "Internet of things," the app requirement is significant barrier.

Requiring an app in order to connect smart devices is a significant barrier to adoption.

But how would this “Physical Web” concept work exactly?

I imagine that it would still require user approval prior to being useful, however, if enabled, it could function in a similar way to Google Now: It works in the background and as you are within proximity of smart devices or beacon technology, the content appears on your device. This could be for bus schedules as discussed in the VentureBeat article, or in a retail setting -- promotional material related to items you have previously searched for, coupons, etc.

Other possible use cases include:

  • Wait Times: Adding your name to the waiting list at the doctor's office, restaurants, bars, etc.
  • Traffic Delays/Construction Information: This might be farfetched, but if there were beacons situated in high volume traffic routes, it could provide updates to drivers about alternate routes, etc.

Last week, I pondered the question of how to A) get consumers to download an app to connect to people’s phones via BLE/Beacon. But that’s only half the barrier: The user must also B) TURN ON the app too, when they enter the store. This speaks to the potential significance of the “Physical Web” concept. 

'Physical Web' technology is worth keeping an eye on. It proposes a more streamlined experience for delivering desirable content to the user.

This technology would be a significant advancement in how everything is communicated to users of smart devices. It is an interesting technology to keep an eye on. That said, a problem I see arising include the user being inundated with content and not allowing this to continue. As a user, I would still want to control the type of content I receive.

What I like about it is that the information seems easier to receive. Not requiring apps for all of the interactions would be wonderful as it would save storage space on devices, unclutter screens, and just be a more streamlined experience to deliver the content the user wants.

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, Internet of Things, Customer Experience

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