Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tagging Tokyo's Streets

Tokyo is going to experiment with a ubiquitous computing project that could transform the city, as well as spearheading the way into how urban spaces are navigated:

A capital city without road names is a huge handicap. Collectively, the Japanese (especially trainee post workers) and bewildered visitors have spent decades lost in Tokyo's labyrinthine arteries - most, literally, without a name...

...Heading the project is Tokyo University professor Ken Sakamura -who, with the aid of the Japanese government, is well on his way to building the world's first truly public ubiquitous computer network. It's "an infrastructure for the 21st century", he says, adding that it will see our everyday landscape guide us, inform us and generally hold our hand in an increasingly puzzling world.

Sakamura foresees scenarios resembling those in the film Minority Report, where the hero passes intelligent ad boards and shops in the mall which acknowledge him by name and try to flog him stuff. However the real-life version, in Japan at least, will be less intrusive, Sakamura insists....

"With this system the user is in complete control. As a user of such a network we will see our enviros us," Sakamura says. "We seek only to chip or tag objects and the environment, never people. With this system you can choose to read which you wish. The ubiquitous communicator - the pocket device you use to read the information around you - can only read and write, which means your identity is protected."

Read in full: Tagging Tokyo's streets


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