Smart Signs

Conventional Posters, Signs and Shop Windows are rather static today. Al-though modern systems allow dynamic content, they do not interact with users, instead they are “broadcasting” information to everyone, not considering if a user is interested in the corresponding information or not. Moreover, current posters do not allow to interact with them; for the interested user it is not possi-ble to get additional information about the content of a “sign” nor is it possible to use interactive functionality, for example to submit a quote for an offer. Smart Signs allow a personalized presentation of arbitrary content as well as interaction with signs. Users can “pickup” information by simply passing by the poster, whereas user preferences and interests are considered to prevent an-noying users with unwanted information. Depending on the application, Smart Signs moreover allow the direct interaction with them. Our generalized ap-proach allows to “stick-on” information to everyday-life objects, whereat such objects do not need to be full featured computers. A Smart Sign can actually be implemented using a conventional sign together with an identification technol-ogy such as RFID, Barcode or Visual Codes; a more sophisticated “display technology” however provides the advantage of a highly dynamic and personal-ized content.

The Smart Signs project demonstrates the functionality of interacting with resource-less devices introduced by the Autonomic Peer Systems Project. The end-user device is equipped with an appropriate identification technology like RFID, Barcode or a Camera for identification of Visual Codes and a communi-cation technology to reach other devices (for example Bluetooth, IrDA or WLAN). Each Smart Poster is assigned to one or more proxies which interact on behalf of the object and publish the responsibility periodically. Upon “detecting” a Smart Sign, the end-user devices remember the corresponding ID of the poster. As soon as a proxy for the Smart Sign is available, a communication channel between the user device and the proxy (interacting on behalf of the sign) is established and the contextualized interest-profile of the user is matched against the content provided by the Smart Sign. If both, interests and Sign content match, the content of the Smart Sign is presented to the user and stored on the user-device for later review (“contextualized information pick-up”). A Smart Sign may not only contain static data, but also active code, which can be transferred to the user-device in order to allow using a Sign specific interac-tion GUI and application logic.
Interaction with a Smart Sign can either be accomplished immediately or delayed. Immediate interaction requires that a proxy is available as soon as the Smart Sign itself is detected, for example by utilizing an communication infra-structure such as WLAN or UMTS or having the proxy in place of (a collection of) Smart Signs. Immediate interaction therefore requires both, spatial and tem-poral proximity of Smart Poster and user. Delayed interaction does not require an immediately reachable proxy (interaction is accomplished later), thus interac-tion is achieved without spatial or temporal proximity between user and sign itself.