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The Web: Here, There, And Everywhere

CoolTown isn't a new animated TV series or video game. It's a research project at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., that assumes the Internet will soon be pervasive and accessing it will be as easy as pushing a
CoolTown isn't a new animated TV series or video game. It's a research project at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., that assumes the Internet will soon be pervasive and accessing it will be as easy as pushing a button on a remote control.

Every person, place, and device in CoolTown--and, in the not-too-distant future, our world--will communicate easily via the Net. There will be a proliferation of Web appliances and services for consumers and businesses. PDAs, cell phones, and even-smaller devices will be able to tap into rich multimedia content by sending a URL pointer to an Internet beacon via an infrared connection. These beacons will be inconspicuously located in every room of every building. Beacons are simple wireless receivers that broadcast URLs. HP researchers have created prototype software, called E-Squirt, that will let users create and interact with beacons. A beacon broadcasts a URL to your personal computing device, where the content can be displayed or sent to another device such as a printer or DVD player.

Devices that are E-Squirt-enabled will be able to access all sorts of content. So instead of lugging a heavy PC to a sales presentation, CoolTown workers will use cell phones or small remote-control devices to access PowerPoint presentations over the Internet and beam them to a networked projection screen.