I'm standing outside a beautiful old building, rich with hidden history. I pull out my phone, expose my location and am shown the online content voted most relevant for that particular spot. Maybe it's a Wikipedia entry, maybe it's public records, maybe it's an old news story about that place. I can read to my heart's content, I can vote my favorite content up and I can add new webpages to the location I'm at for other people to discover in the future.
That kind of vision has long been a dream of mine and now the people at the HP Social Computing Lab have built a proof of concept web application, Android app and API to do exactly that. Called Gloe, the service is very proof-of-concept and the UI needs serious work before many people use it, but it's pretty awesome already.
Led by HP's Thomas Sandholm, the Gloe project so far includes:
- Pre-populated content from Wikipedia, review and photo sharing sites. The index of locations and content is already large and smart.
- Automatic tag-clouds to see content type by category.
- A bookmarklet lets you add any content from around the web to the database, tied to a specific location on the map. This part is barely usable, but it's a great idea.
- Google Gears support to add geolocation to your laptop browser.
- Facebook Connect integration to provide either universal or friend-network views of what's most important in a location.
- Vote budgeting, allowing you to put multiple votes in favor of an item in case it's extra important to you that it gets voted up.
The service is essentially a form of Augmented Reality, augmenting physical locations with geotagged web content. The potential for fun and value here is huge and I've long wondered why no one had built an app like this. (See GeoURL, it turns out, for a related project.)
The API means that other applications can be built on top of Gloe, using it as a database.
HP says the concept is just that, a concept. But the company hopes that people will check it out, build on the API and see what comes of it. It may or may not be commercialized in the future.
The idea is awesome and I really hope that the product gets developed and an iPhone app gets built. Bring on the future!