And helps out lost tourists...
The ancient city of Bath is getting a very high-tech makeover.
The University of Bath today announced a £1.6m pilot that will see the city kitted out with a municipal network that will make use of wireless technologies such as NFC (near field communications), typically found in the Oyster card, and Bluetooth.
As part of the trial, a network of 30 volunteers will be given high-end Nokia phones and will be able to use navigation software, location-based games and cultural activities. The university will monitor the volunteers' interaction with the wireless project.
Among the applications volunteers will be able to try out will be an image recognition service, where users can send an MMS of a building to a central server which will determine their location and reply with details about the place and its history.
According to the university, the Cityware project has a number of aims, including investigating the technological, psychological and town-planning issues around pervasive computing networks.
The wireless research element of the project, known as Radio City, will also examine and map the presence of certain mobile access technologies such as Bluetooth and wi-fi. The prevalence of visible Bluetooth phones will also be examined to see if Bluetooth P2P communications could play a part in the city's future, for example.
The 'emotional' impact of technologies will come under the microscope too. The university will study how the volunteers use their laptops in a public environment and what they feel comfortable with doing wirelessly.
The project will last three years.