Futurologist predicts need for 'digital bubble'

Personal 'force field' needed to save us from gathering wireless advert storm, says BT's ball gazer

People will soon need a 'digital bubble' to protect them from unwanted electronic information, according to BT futurologist Ian Pearson.

Pearson, speaking in London at a briefing on the future of fashion and technology, said that as more and more marketing departments take advantage of wireless technology to beam information at potential consumers walking past, people will need to protect themselves from the onslaught of digital data.

"[In the future] there will be chips all over the high street relaying information and you will be bombarded with digital information everywhere you go," said Pearson. "You will need a digital bubble force field — a shield that lets through what you want and blocks everything else."

The digital bubble will act as both an electronic force field and a personal firewall, according to Pearson.

There are already technologies available that allow advertising to be pushed wirelessly to mobile devices, for example, the MediaTeam Oulu research group has developed an experimental system that uses Bluetooth positioning and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Push technology to deliver permission-based, location-aware adverts to mobile phones. WAP Push, which is part of the WAP standard, allows a user to automatically access WAP content from a mobile handset after receiving an SMS.

Digital bubbles will not only interact with the fixed environment, but with the bubbles of other people, according to Pearson. He pointed out that many people already broadcast information about themselves via a personal Web site. In the future, people may broadcast information about themselves on the go, via a personal wireless Web server that is part of the digital bubble, he said.