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Web 2.0 for the real world

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Staff writer ▼ | March 13, 2009
bionetsEuropean researchers working on some of the most fundamental issues facing the future internet paradigm have developed.

Those fine people worked in their spare time on a mobile platform that brings some of the most powerful and compelling Web 2.0 services to the real, mobile world. “Engineers like to play with toys too,” says Daniele Miorandi, coordinator of the BIONETS project, explaining why their team developed its U-Hopper platform, an “opportunistic” communication platform for mobile phones.

BIONETS was set up to tackle some of the fundamental scientific and engineering issues facing the future internet, and its loose aliases the ‘network of things’, or the ‘internet of everything’. It will link everything from clothing to cars, kitchenware to entertainment systems - a Web cubed.

It is a big, fundamental problem of the sort that scientists and engineers love to get their teeth into. But as Miorandi says, engineers like to have fun, too, so they developed U-Hopper in their spare time, as it were.

It was a simple proof of concept for the engineers, but this almost casual exercise has managed to bring some of the most compelling and powerful Web 2.0 functionality to the real world of mobile devices. It is the sort of innovation that would be worthy of a project in itself.

The prototypes are impressive and, with a little work, would be ready for application in the real world very quickly. Venture capitalists have already expressed interest in the idea, as have telecoms networks, but BIONETS is very interested in hearing from other potential investors or partners, too.

“We have developed some IPRs around this technology and it works well in our demonstrator models, delivering real benefits for users, so we are very keen to see it go further,” Miorandi explains.

U-Hopper is a middleware platform supporting context-aware, opportunistic communications in a mobile environment. There are many scenarios where this type of functionality could be a real winner. For example, digital advertising screens could match the adverts they display to the user or users near the screen at that time. This could be a goldmine of an application, because it makes advertising extremely focused. But since users must set up their preferences and opt in to the service, it means they only get to see advertisements that interest them. It is a win-win for both advertisers and consumers.

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