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On this page are some first thoughts on how we could demonstrate the use of a Wearable Computer as a 'Shopping Assistant' - further thoughts, refinements and/or suggestions welcome.
Scenario: Shopping in the Next Millennium
The Wearable Computer combined with the Internet, presents many opportunities for aiding shoppers. Though shopping via the Internet will become increasingly popular, people will still want to visit shops to browse through, sample and select goods for purchase. It is expected that shopping precincts will become larger, and present the shopper with an even greater choice. Shoppers who wear a computer (or carry a PDA) will be able to access a range of services to make visits to shopping centres an easier and more effective experience.
For example, a Pinger transmitting the IP address of a nearby shop could enable the shop's web-site to be automatically contacted via a GSM 'phone. By displaying the web-site on a hand held display, it could then act as a sales assistant giving interactive information about the shop and it's goods for sale. All that would be required to implement this would be a low cost (standardised) Pinger system. The Pinger receiver could be integrated into a Wearable or into a PDA. While this could provide an alternative to hanging around with a query for a (real) shop assistant, or searching a department store for a particular item, the concept becomes more powerful when visiting a shopping centre (or mall), with information about a range of shops and their stock available at the web-site.
A more ambitious example would involve compiling a shopping list using free speech recording. Whenever a user wishes to add to the list, he/she simply asks for the shopping list and adds an audio note to it. On approaching a shopping precinct, the Wearable Computer will be alerted by the Pinger of the IP address for the local shops in the area. At the IP address is a server waiting to receive the notes which comprise the shopping list. The server will also have access to databases containing the goods stocked in nearby shops, and their prices. Using speech recognition to analyse the pre-recorded notes, the server will carry out a search on its databases and return a file for display on the hand held display. The user, on arrival at a shopping centre would simply look at the hand held display to see all the items available, their prices and a map showing their locations. The need for shoppers to search around to find the items they need at the best prices, and to find which shops actually have the items in stock, would be eliminated. Using variations of 'Travelling Salesman' algorithms, the most effective route could also be plotted between the shops!
The possibility also exists for targeted advertising. The Wearable Computer could send a list of personal interests to the server which would respond with new products and special offers available at the shopping centre.
The Vixen remotely controlled car alarm can be purchased from Maplin for £30. With a range of over 100ft, the key-fob transmits an 8-bit code using a coding/decoding chip similar to the HT680, and a RF carrier (frequency unknown). This could be combined with a PIC used to generate the IP address. The address would be sent as part of a sequence of bytes including a page identifier, error correction, and a synchronising byte. The combination of the PIC and key-fob transmitter would provide a basic Pinger activated once every (say) ten seconds.
The receiver would again use a PIC to decode the IP address from the main alarm unit (stripped of it's siren and sensors!). Connected to the 'Jacket via a serial port, the PIC would trigger software to initiate the 'phone link, download the relevant web-page, notify the user and display the page via the footbridge on the Nino.
cnr & hm - feb'99
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Last updated: January 14, 2000.
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