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Sunday, 26 January, 2003, 07:19 GMT
Mobiles reach out to the web
Bus stop and high street, BBC
The High Street could soon be awash with web links
Posters and adverts on the street could soon be a lot more informative.

A Cambridge-based company has created cheap, smart tags that can beam website links to mobile phones to give people more information about the poster, advert or shop the marker is attached to.

The smart devices, developed by a company called Hypertag, use infra-red to send web links to mobile phones.

This week Hypertag won a grant from the UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts to develop its technology.

Powered poster

Jonathan Morgan, chief executive of Hypertag, said 40% of modern mobile phones could already accept information sent via infra-red making it an obvious choice for the tagging system.

"It is just like using a remote control on the TV," he said.

Cinema audience, AP
Posters in film theatres could dispense trailers
He added that Hypertag was also working on a Bluetooth version of its tag which transfers information via short-range radio link.

The links that are passed to mobile phones could lead people to be more information about historic monuments, exhibits in a museum or tell them more about products being advertised.

They could also direct consumers to sites where they can download music, movie trailers or stills from a film, said Mr Morgan.

Because the hypertags contain only information about a web link they are small, cheap and can be powered by batteries, said Mr Morgan.

Many mobile firms are keen to develop services based around knowing the location of their customers. But the limitations of such systems are only slowly being overcome.

Cash flow

"The granularity of GPS and cell-ID is rather large," said Mr Morgan, "and you have to have a lot of infrastructure behind it to make it work."

By contrast, he said, the hypertag system was cheap to use and the markers could be positioned only a few centimetres apart yet give people very different information.

Hypertag was founded in August 2001 and Mr Morgan said since then it had been working on perfecting the hypertag technology.

The six-figure cash grant given by Nesta and a raft of other investors will help the company survive the next 12 months and find its first customers.

Mr Morgan said the company was already in talks with some companies interested in adopting its tag technology and said he expected to unveil the first customer in a matter of weeks.

See also:

16 Jan 03 | Technology
08 Nov 00 | Science/Nature
16 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
08 Jun 00 | Science/Nature
20 Dec 02 | Technology
15 Feb 01 | Business
07 Jan 03 | dot life
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