Physical Hyperlinks and Web/ID

The term internet of things, coined many years ago, is now prominent; meaning the system in which arbitrary physical entities with IP addresses interact directly, and in which their data is aggregated and processed by applications. Many, like us, prefer to formulate these interactions in terms of web protocols (HTTP etc), and term this the web of things. In the Cooltown project, which was seminal in this respect, we termed this the Real World Wide Web: the systematic linkage from physical entities to web resources. We should have used Physical World Wide Web, but that didn't sound as good! A related term we used was physical hyperlink. Sometimes physical hyperlinks take the form of URLs physically bound to the physical entities — for example, in the form of a Cooltown beacon that broadcasts the entity's URL to handheld devices nearby. But other times entities bear identifiers rather than URLs, in the form of barcodes or RFID, for example. web/id is the system that resolves identifiers such as tag URIs printed on or attached to physical entities, in order to link them to web resources.



Viually distinctive barcodes

I experimented with 'organic' barcode designs, whose distinctive form indicated they linked to web content.

Internet DNA


Note that all these barcodes can be conveniently read using a standard laser scanner. (In some cases, such as the wavy barcode, the user needs to see where the 'scan lines' are.)

If you use tag URIs as your identifiers, you have all the id technology you need to identify your electronic and non-electronic stuff.