Wednesday, June 28, 2006

In Japan, phone has answer - Technology - International Herald Tribune

What's that? In Japan, phone has answer - Technology - International Herald Tribune: "If you stand on a street corner in Tokyo today, you can point a specialized cellphone at a hotel, a restaurant or a historical monument, and with the press of a button the phone will display information from the Internet describing the object you are looking at.

The new service is made possible by the efforts of three Japanese companies and GeoVector, a small American technology firm, and it represents a missing link between cyberspace and the physical world.

The phones combine satellite-based navigation, precise to within no more than 9 meters, or 30 feet, with an electronic compass to provide a new dimension of orientation. Connect the device to the Internet and it is possible to overlay the point-and-click simplicity of a computer screen on top of the real world.

The technology is being seen first in Japan because emergency regulations there require cellphones by next year to have receivers using the satellite- based Global Positioning System to establish their location.

The point-and-click idea could solve one of the most annoying side-effects of local wireless advertising. In the movie "Minority Report," as Tom Cruise's character moved through an urban setting, walls that identified him sent a barrage of personally tailored visual advertising. Industry executives are afraid that similar wireless spam may come to plague cellphones and other portable devices in the future.

The GeoVector service was introduced commercially this year in Japan by KDDI, a cellular carrier, in a partnership with NEC Magnus Communications, a networking company, and Mapion, a company that distributes map information over the Internet. It is currently available on three handsets from Sony Ericsson."

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