About cooltown (see also physical hyperlinks and web/id)

The goal of the Cooltown project was to provide infrastructure for nomadic computing, a term the project used for human-oriented mobile and ubiquitous computing. 'Nomadic' refers to humans moving between places such as home, work and shops as they go about their everyday lives. 'Computing' refers here to services provided to those nomadic users — not just services such as email that can be provided anywhere there is connectivity, but more particularly services integrated with entities in the everyday physical world through which the users move. To access those services, humans are assumed to carry or wear wirelessly connected and sensor-equipped devices such as phones, PDAs or smart watches.

More specifically, the project's aim was to apply lessons learned from the success of the Web to nomadic computing, via two objectives. First, since the web provides a rich and extensible set of resources in the virtual world, much can potentially be gained by extending the web's architecture and the Web's existing resources to the physical world. One objective for the Cooltown design was expressed in the maxim 'everything has a web page': each entity in our physical world, whether electronic or not, is to have an associated web resource called a web presence, which the user is to be able to access conveniently when in the presence of that entity. A web presence could simply be a web page containing information about the entity; but it could be any service provided in association with the entity. For example, the web presence of a physical product could be a service for obtaining replacement parts.

The second objective was to achieve the web's high degree of interoperability for interactions with devices. Nomadic users may need to interact in places they have never visited before, with web presences they have never encountered before. It would not be acceptable for the user to have to load new software or reconfigure existing software on their portable devices in order to benefit from those services. The project developed the eSquirt protocol to provide high interoperability.

While it was principally myself and John Barton who wrote about Cooltown, we were part of a team and much of the credit for the original ideas in the project belongs to Jeff Morgan.

Core Cooltown publications

Applications and human factors of Cooltown

The first two papers describe work on a project with the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Other ubicomp papers

Related work

Papers on HP's JetSend protocol for ad hoc device-to-device interaction are hard to come by. So here is one by Peter Williams and one by Simon Shiu and Richard Hull, both originally given at the IEEE International Workshop on Networked Appliances, IEEE IWNA '98, IEEE Press, Kyoto, Japan, November 1998.