Chrome, JavaScript, mobile, webdev

Physical Web On Mobile

Physical Web is the new approach to unleash the core superpower of the web: interaction on demand.
People should be able to walk up to any smart device, think on classic cases like: a vending machine, an art item, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car – and not have to download an app first. They should be able to just tap and interact with them.

forest in the morning

The Physical Web is not shipping yet nor is it a Google product. This is an early-stage experimental project and we’re developing it out in the open as we do all things related to the web. This should only be of interest to developers looking to test out this feature and provide feedback. The Physical Web is an effort to extend the core superpower of the web – the URL – to everyday physical objects. The user experience of smart objects should be much like links in a web browser: i.e., just tap and use. At its base, the Physical Web is a discovery service: a smart object broadcasts relevant URLs that any nearby device can receive.
This simple capability can unlock exciting new ways to interact with the Web.
Moreover, with the power of the web platform (e.g. ServiceWorker, notifications etc’) we could see soon quality web app that let the user be productive with the objects around them with a single click.

If you wish to start ‘play’ with the idea – You have few options:

  • Use mDNS –  It should not be limited to just Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons. mDNS is a service broadcast technique used in Wifi networks. It has two advantages over BLE:
    • Only people logged into your wifi can see the mDNS URLs. This means that in an appartment, your neighbors can’t see your devices.
    • It doesn’t have the length restrictions of BLE has so a URL can be along as you’d like (well, at least up to 100 characters).
  • UPnP/SSDP – It support the broadcast in the same use cases as for mDNS, but uses a different protocol to advertise and receive URLs. There are different options to support UPnP or SSDP in Physical Web. The Physical Web Advertiser is a cross platform command line tool based on Node.js that can be used to advertise URLs over SSDP.
  • Play with hardware – buy a beacon that is ready out of the box. One option is Blesh. They sells packs of three that are easy to setup and use.

With all these options you can work with mobile apps: You can find a version for Android on the Play store as well as for Apple. A walkthrough of the app is here and will show you how to put your URL into a beacon.

Happy hacking!

Data and the light

If you wish to learn more:


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