IIT-Bombay develops ‘physical web’ of shops, goods.
Mumbai: The next time you think of buying a leather jacket or an earthen pot from Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum and hub of crafts, you could get information of the shops and the stuff they sell on your smartphone. Thanks to IIT-Bombay, who in collaboration with Google and UK-based Swansea University have developed a ‘physical web’ for Dharavi that helps small scale business hubs in Dharavi to promote their business on a digital platform. “Customers having smartphones are advised to keep their Bluetooth, location and Internet connectivity switched on to get access to the physical web from Chrome browser. When a customer is in the proximity of a beacon-enabled shop, the customer will get a notification in their mobile via bluetooth. They can browse through all the products through an interactive interface. Thus, the customer gets an overview of the products that a shop sells in Dharavi. This will help the customer make an informed choice,” said IIT-B in a statement on Thursday.
In first phase, Google would provide around 100 beacons wherein these beacons would be connected with the physical web located in every shop. Dharavi, considered a slum with narrow lanes, has now blossomed in to a self-sustained informal economy. The dense population of around one million generates huge amount of revenue. Dharavi would be rehabilitated with the state government making attempts to redevelop Dharavi via the public private partnership model. Industries related to leather, garment, recycling and pottery dominate the informal sector. The initiative is a part of Google’s Internet of Things Technology Research Award. IIT student, Chinmay Parab, said, “Most new technologies, at inception, are exclusive and cater to only those who can afford the technology. We questioned, ‘Can we use technologies that cater to the wealthy for ones who really need it?’ This technology of ‘Internet of Things’ will provide the population in the resource-constrained environment of Dharavi an exposure to vast possibilities.”
Shops that are part of the initiative, are given a poster that asks people to turn on their bluetooth to experience the physical web.