Monday, January 23, 2006

Context-Aware Services 2

Paul Miller (Talis) has posted another interesting example of context-aware services.
Take an RSS-driven application in a shop. Take an RFID tagged item of shopping in your basket or trolley. Add the two together, along with a little data off the store loyalty card in your pocket. Mix, and have the screen (at the checkout) remind you that the last time you bought that product, you also bought a bottle of Chardonnay, and it's on offer at the moment one aisle to your left. And because it's all built on open standards, the same application can target your phone, your computer, and more.
Of course, this raises a lot of the architectural issues raised in my previous post, including privacy. (I might not want the person behind me to know about my Chardonnay habit.) Paul asks whether the retail sector debates this stuff intensely, or whether it just goes ahead and does it. I suspect the latter.

Where this stuff gets interesting is when the process becomes truly open and collaborative. Does the supermarket have exclusive control over the messages that are displayed on its screens, or do we start to see something more radical? To what extent does technological openness entail business openness?

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