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Here are some of our ideas for prototypes we are planning to develop:

Peer-to-Peer Urban Tapestries Network
Our ultimate aim is to create a distributed server system for Urban Tapestries, whereby people would be able to set up their own UT Content Servers (much in the same way as webservers) from which they could store and serve their own content.

To enable the sharing of the accumulated knowledge of so many different servers, Proboscis would develop an indexing system. Client devices would send location requests to a UT Index Server which would pass the client device's request on to those servers with threads and pockets that are within a certain radius of the coordinates. Individual servers would interpret the permissions and preferences of the client device and return matching information.

UT P2P Server Map


Urban Tapestries MeshBox Servers
Another possibility for extremely local UT servers is to embed them within WiFi base stations, such as Locustworld's MeshBoxes. The client – perhaps a laptop or PDA, or even a bluetooth enabled mobile phone – would use a simple browser to log onto the wireless connection and be served local maps and information relating to the local area in which the meshbox is situated.


Hybrid & Lo-Tech Location Positioning
Whilst the drive to embed automatic location-positioning in devices continues, Proboscis is interested in more heterogeneous modes of determining location that combine creative uses of existing technologies. From software bar-code readers for camera-phones to RFID tags and readers, to Bluetooth beacons and increasingly sophisticated WiFi spotters, there are a wealth of possibilities for simple, cheap and effective location markers to be embedded in the fabric of our towns and cities that will enable mobile and wireless devices to determine their position without needing to rely on satellite positioning systems such as GPS, Glonass or Gallileo. Combined with our existing indicators for location positioning (such street signage, building names and numbers) the following ideas offer a multiplicity of options, and avoid th dead-end of a single one-size-fits-all solution.

Almost all of the techniques and technologies suggested below do not rely on users being tracked or on giving their position to third parties, thus each has significant advantages in terms of privacy issues.

For instance, instead of a URL, a semacode or a bango spot could contain longitude/latitude coordinates (or postcodes or even a street address). With a simple script on a webpage to create the image anyone (such as local shopkeepers) could print off a location code and paste it up in their window. People with the relevant reader on their camera-phone could then capture the location just by pointing and clicking. Given the increasing interest in collaborative cartography and location positioning it is not hard to imagine scenarios where people might deliberately capture the log/lat coordinates of architectural features such as street furniture (phone boxes, post boxes, benches, bus stops etc) and attach such location codes as stickers. Cheap, easy and with great potential for social benefit.
UT Barcode Sensing

Other simple location determining solutions could also be used, such as Placelab or WiFiFoFum. These take advantage of the existing properties and capabilities of WiFi and Bluetooth radio technologies for location sensing. As location databases of WiFi base stations are created and maintained by local users and enthusiasts, it becomes possible to use the existing and ad hoc infrastructures that make up our everyday environment for additional creative misuse.
UT WiFi Sensing

Looking farther ahead, it may eventually become cost-effective for near field radio technologies such as RFID and Bluetooth beacons to be used for similar purposes – perhaps broadcasting the longitude/latitude coordinates, postcode or street address of a particular location. However it is likely to be some time before simple programmable versions of these technologies reach the hands of ordinary people and the relevant hardware is incorporated into everyday devices.


Complex Relationships to Space & Place
Our research into the granularity of location-specificty that people wish to annotate has ended up following what geographers refer to as 'topographical features' – merely marking points on a map or capturing a longitude and latitude location does not convey the extent of what a person might mean by 'place'. Therefore Urban Tapestries is exploring interfaces to allow for 'zones' to be created in the same way as 'pockets' or locational points on a thread:This would enable content to be associated with, for instance, a whole street, or city block rather than to a single point.

And with automatic location sensing it would be possible to set event triggers to play content as one enters a zone.

Having such control over the granularity of our spatial annotations would make this an extremely powerful tool, and allow for the broadest range of interpretations of what constitutes a 'place' to its users.

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