August 3, 2000:

I was just reminded by xblog's link to the i3 of the last time I visited Italy (gotta pay my respects to my "peeps"): I was lucky enough to get a demo of this rad HIPS project they were doing at the University of Siena (pdf). The idea was that there's an information space that's layered on top of physical space, not in the sort of McLuhanesque infosphere way, but where every physical location has layers and layers of information specific to it (a very Italian concept!).

But, even better than the idea is the product, a PDA tourguide that tailored its information to where you were, what you were looking at, and--most impressively--what you had been doing in the past. So, if it recognized that you had just returned to a painting you had already seen, it would give you deeper information, and might remember that you had been asking for more historical data about other paintings and so would float that to the top. It all sounds neat, but it's nothing compared to actually using the thing (even in the buggy, prototypical version I got to see).

This is what pervasive computing is all about.

ps--the HIPS site is interesting, but pretty unstable/shocked.

pps--there's also a Wired article about the project.