Via Intelligente, a Spanish tech company, has developed an interesting way to discreetly incorporate Wi-Fi hotspots into public places. Its iPavement system puts all of the equipment needed to run a hotspot underfoot – in the pavement.
iPavement stones are constructed from calcium carbonate and pack in more technology than is usually seen in hotspots. Each stone features a 5 GB microprocessor that connects to nearby devices through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Internet access and power come by way of an earthed 1,000-watt cable. Each one weighs approximately 24 kilograms. Intelligente recommends that in order to provide complete coverage, the iPavement stones be spaced no more than 20 meters apart.
Along with providing mobile Internet access, the stones can run a variety of apps. These include promotional maps, a coupon service, a music player, a digital library and a Bluetooth messaging service that can issue warnings about nearby hazards. Business owners who incorporate iPavement can even take advantage of an analytical app that provides statistics about pedestrian traffic (when footfall sensitive blocks are used).
The idea sounds interesting, but the scope of its implementation might be limited by its operating temperature range. Like many electronic devices, iPavement doesn’t do well when the temperature drops to 14 degrees or rises to 113. Routing equipment does tend to heat up when in use, and Spain’s hot summers would seem to be problematic.
At any rate, iPavement looks like a great system for countries that are within the temperature range. On the surface, the apps might not seem like much of a selling point, but it’s a clever way to provide pedestrians with location-specific information and to promote local businesses.