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MediaScape toolkit

Research opportunities

Today we view the Internet through a two-dimensional screen. In the future, HP Labs researchers believe, the Internet will be all around us.

Many people carry Internet-enabled mobile phones that include cameras and GPS locators. One day, mobile devices may be equipped with sensors that detect such environmental factors as the direction or speed of travel, heart rates, air temperatures, moisture levels, or the presence or absence of light. These devices may also read information contained in digital tags placed on other objects -- from sheets of paper to pets, food, electronic devices and automobiles.

Informed by their sensors and the digital tags they read, new mobile devices will be linked wirelessly in networks -- offering a rich, digital overlay of the real world, dynamically updated in real time. As a result, mobile devices could help users navigate around a location and retrieve information about it, find new communities, play new kinds of games, or to shop in smarter and more convenient ways.


Our approach

We are seeking to understand the opportunities for new products and services that will emerge around the delivery of location- and other context-based experiences.

Research focus

Our research focuses on creating context-based services and experiences, learning about how people interact with these experiences and making it possible for users to create their own.

Current work

A particular focus has involved mediascapes, which are digital overlays of the real world, taking the experience of digital sounds and images beyond the confines of a TV, PC or movie. They offer a non-linear, context-driven experience in which users' actions over time and space determine what is experienced next.

HP Labs has worked with artists, teachers, broadcasters and storytellers to create a series of experimental mediascapes. They have included a location-aware adventure game at the Tower of London, a re-creation of an infamous riot in Queen's Square, Bristol, UK, and an interactive digital storytelling experience in a San Francisco neighborhood.

We envision a wide range of applications for mediascapes -- mobile games, tours of discovery, art installations and more. The only constraint is the imagination.

Researchers developed a mediascape authoring toolkit (the mScape toolkit) design to allow people to create their own mediascapes. When available, it will be free for non-commercial use.

We envision a wide range of applications for mediascapes -- mobile games, tours of discovery, art installations and more. The only constraint is the imagination.

A second project, Active Print, also explores how pervasive computing might change how we experience digital services, particularly those connected with marketing and retail. The project grew from an earlier HP Labs experiment called Cooltown, in which researchers developed systems that let users of wireless handheld device quickly obtain Web content relevant to their current locations.

Active Print utilizes the new generation of small 2-D bar codes now being placed on objects all over the world. These bar codes can be read by many new mobile phones to reveal textual information or a hyperlink. For example, such a link might connect mobile users to services or to background information about a product they are considering for purchase.

Technical contributions

In addition to mediascapes created with artists and others in the U.K. and U.S., HP Labs helped launch a free resource for schools called Create-a-scape, which lets students and teachers create digital, mobile, multimedia experiences to provide location-based learning.

The Create-a-scape Web site is a resource for hands-on activity that uses state-of-the-art mobile technology in a way that allows students (aged 10 and older) to use handheld computers to learn while exploring their surroundings.

In addition, researchers have run trials of the Active Print technology with the BBC, the London Zoo, and the British newspaper The Times, among others.

Media, mobility & communications

» Multimedia capture & display
  » Media networking & communications  
  » Distributed systems networking  
  » Mobile service platforms  
  » Interactive media experiences  
  » Digital rights & secure media  
  » Media & information systems  

Related research

»  Mediascapes
»  ActivePrint

Learn more

»  Feature story: Escape from the Tower of London
»  Free interactive learning resource available
»  Create-a-scape
»  Feature story: Speed dial for content
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