Mister Beacon Episode #5

Google's Physical Web Project lead Interview

July 02, 2016

Scott Jenson on Google’s announcement to move Physical Web directly into Android, how it's being used, Bluetooth activation and concerns about Google controlling the Physical Web proxy.


  • Narration 00:18

    You're listening to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem with Steve Statler.

    Scott Jenson 00:34

    We just announced yesterday with the new nearby service, that this is now going to be built into the Android operating system. Just I got so much grief for that I have learned I will never do that, again. Marketing encouraged me to do that they thought it was awesome, you know. That's the fundamental difference is that we have effectively this two different ends, we have something that's very closely tied to Google services, and all the benefits that can come with that. And then you've got something that's a lot more lightweight and more kind of, of the web. So they didn't even have to do anything. We just literally came in, took 30 beacons programmed each one to kind of go to their URL for each exhibit and put them up and we were done in 20 minutes. Well, I want to acknowledge your point that right now, the Google PWA is the physic web service is kind of a central point for us. But the point is, is that we very much want there to be others and we've built it that way.

    Steve Statler 01:33

    Welcome to the latest episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Beacosystem. My name is Steve Statler from Statler Consulting. We're doing this program in partnership with our friends at Proxbook. And today we are using a Google Hangout to talk to Scott Jensen, who works within Google and is probably one of the most influential people in our industry, this show is rather strangely billed as being a set of interviews with CEOs. And Scott actually isn't the CEO of Google.

    Scott Jenson 02:09

    Not even close.

    Steve Statler 02:12

    He's probably done more than most of the CEOs of beacosystem in terms of shaping where things have gone. And anyone who's heard of the Physical Web, or Eddystone URL has got to thank. So Scott, let me thank you for that and also for being part of the show.

    Scott Jenson 02:27

    Happy to talk to be here.

    Steve Statler 02:30

    Very good. So maybe you can explain a little bit about what your role is. It doesn't seem like Google's terribly hot on titles, but what what's what's your role within Google?

    Scott Jenson 02:41

    I guess you'd loosely call me the Project Lead for the Physical Web. This is a project that I conceived of, and I pushed very hard on, I came to Google as kind of a team of one and got the classic 20% work happening. Got an initial demo done for Google IO back in 2014. And just kind of grew it from there.

    Steve Statler 03:02

    That's awesome. Well, we should I think a lot of people that are focused on this business know what the Physical Web is, but there will be some people that don't. So we should probably start off and have a brief recap, I really want to go into some of the background and what's happening in the future and what you're seeing, but but we should orientate people first. So do you want to give us a few minutes introduction to what the Physical Web is?

    Scott Jenson 03:26

    Yeah, sure, what we're trying to do is to basically infuse the web into the physical world, you should be able to walk into a location or up to a device and be able to interact with it with just a tap. And the web has this superpower that you don't have to install anything, you can just go. So whether I'm ordering a fast burrito from a particular vendor, or whether I'm getting a map at a mall, or whether I happen to find a dog that looks like he's lost, and I want to be able to find his owner. All of these things are these light ephemeral interactions, that kind of start with information, but can then be interactive. So this idea that you can discover effectively, information for things and objects around you.

    Steve Statler 04:08

    So it's really a discovery discovery mechanism that uses beacons to broadcast your ELS is that right?

    Scott Jenson 04:17

    We currently use beacons because they're, as I say, kind of like the new the current black. Everybody likes beacons, everyone's talking about beacons. But what we're really trying to do is to say our goal in the Physical Web is to find URLs around you. And beacons are the first step we actually have built into our prototype app, the one that's on the GitHub, we actually have mDNS support built in, which had a little bit of a hiccup because of an android android android library issue. But we have every intention of expanding to beyond just beacons. And what is mDNS mDNS is the discovery mechanism within Wi Fi. So you can be in your home network. And then you can broadcast and say hey, who's got some stuff to share with me and then all the devices that want to respond can respond. So when we first implemented mDNS, I went home and I fired it up and I saw my router. And I clicked on it. And my router actually had a web page and I can configure my router through the Physical Web, it just worked for free.

    Steve Statler 05:14

    So in this way, all of those Cisco Aruba, Wi Fi access points could be broadcasting URLs that can be part of a browse discovery experience.

    Scott Jenson 05:27

    Exactly. And then, of course, once you do this, this actually opens up the door. This isn't really a business case, but opens up more of a maker case, which means any Raspberry Pi can install a little tiny, mDNS server and then, and then they can say, Hey, you want to connect to me, here we go. And so it makes it really easy for people to be able to make their device discoverable through Wi Fi, they don't even need a beacon anymore. So this is clearly more of an experimental thing. But we feel like it's also going to encourage a whole new level of interactivity for these devices.

    Steve Statler 05:56

    But at the moment, the center of gravity is around Bluetooth, it is. And it's kind of interesting, because beacons are traditionally associated with these kind of push triggers where they're driving pop ups and engaging with people not really paying attention. But that seems to be almost like the opposite of what you're doing.

    Scott Jenson 06:19

    Agreed. I mean, that was the clearly clearly the first model, the first model was this idea that you would write an application for a particular retail store. And then when you walk into the store, you'd get some kind of push notification. And it's a little frustrating, because it feels like the whole world is imprinted upon that model. And every time I talk about the Physical Web, everyone seems to want to reinvent that, as opposed to the fact that we're trying to encourage this idea of, no, there's just stuff around you. And you asked for it. And we very much are against this idea of a push notification. People often say, Oh, my God, this is gonna be spam. And we're like, well, actually, you will only pull down the notification manager, see, there's something nearby, if you want to see it, you click on it. So you've opted in, and then you see a list and we're going to do our best to rank them for you. And then you just pick the one you want. And if there is something in there, they don't like then you ignore it. So we're trying very hard to make this a pole notification, I mean, a pole experience that you have to ask for, to a list of things that you can ignore, if you want. So it's really trying to respect the user's attention.

    Steve Statler 07:22

    It seems like, you know, being part of Google, you have a lot more, maybe it's self confidence that people will do this. Whereas those of us who've kind of been in the startup space, and I know you've worked for smaller companies as well. Yeah, there's this anxiety that no one's gonna do it, no one's gonna swipe down. Are you confident that people are going to actually look around and explore this stuff? Because if I'm in a startup, and I'm betting my future on the Physical Web, it would just be really horrible if no one's swiped?

    Scott Jenson 07:56

    No, I mean, and that's a fair, fair point. We're trying to create this broader ecosystem. And we are taking the long view. I mean, I can't tell you there are people that are saying, Can you give me an exception, can't I alert the user. And yes, that would possibly win in the short run. But then, of course, for those of us who've been around long enough, and remember, Bluetooth push messaging in the late 90s, when that first came out, it instantly became a spam vector. And you'd walk down the street and be like Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz. And so having lived through that, I knew I didn't want to reproduce that. Now. At the same time, we appreciate that this is maybe more analogous to what say Wi Fi was maybe in the early 90s, which is you'd go into a coffee shop, and they'd have a big sign, we've got Wi Fi, or there'd be the Wi Fi inside sticker. And you'd have to like teach people what an SSID was. And, and it took time. And now of course, you know, many years later, you just expect there to be Wi Fi, he's open your laptop, you just go. And so we expect that that right now we have to kind of get enough people to have the beacon's to be broadcasting, we've got to get people used to being able to do it, and it will be this slow thing. So if you are someone who is risk averse, then you probably want to wait until there's a few more people doing it. But fortunately, we have people, you know, like transport of London, we've got also the folks that are jumping on this. And so there are people that are kind of the Harbingers that are running and doing it and just let them go for a few more months, and they'll gobble up some good fun space. And, and it'll grow. But it's I think it's okay for us to think kind of slow and steady in this particular case, and have it eventually go.

    Steve Statler 09:29

    Cool. Well, I'd like to return to some more examples of where people are using this. And what's interesting you in terms of the partner ecosystem. But before we do that, let's just make sure everyone's clear about what we're talking about. So these URLs are being broadcast. And presumably, there's a physical web logo. So maybe people will learn to recognize that and think that there's some interaction that can be done. And, you know, what are the differences? How do I discover this on Android versus how I discover it on iOS?

    Scott Jenson 09:58

    On Android there's, we initially shipped that on Chrome, and it would be a notification that would pop down. We just announced yesterday with the new nearby service, that this is now going to be built into the Android operating system. So it's similar experience, you pull down, you'll still see the notification, then you'll see a list. But instead of being entirely within Chrome, it's now part of Android proper. So I think we have a fairly good story on Android. However, that doesn't mean that Chrome still can't do something, it can't show you things on a on a new tab page or and there's lots of directions that we could go, we're still talking about that. Opera already has something like that on their on their page. And there are other browsers that are considering it. So even though there's the notification model, you can still do things within the browser itself if you'd like. Obviously, for iOS, we have limited choices right now. So we have the application in our store, which we don't expect lots of people to install, but it's there for people to play with. And then we have Chrome for iOS.

    Steve Statler 10:59

    Physical Web app?

    Scott Jenson 11:00

    There's a physical web app that you can install, if you wish. However, let's be clear, the best solution for for consumers is for Apple to do it. And we would be thrilled to have Apple do it. And so this is part of being on the open web. So we're doing it through the best mechanism we can, which is both Chrome and you know, as a standalone app. But we hope that as this grows, that you know other platforms will do it. And frankly, we as we have more energy, this should be on desktop, and it should be on Chrome OS, and it should be on other platforms as they as they come about.

    Steve Statler 11:32

    So do you have any grounds for optimism that Apple might adopt this, it seems like they're almost in anything that you can do is not something we want to do they want to be very differentiated.

    Scott Jenson 11:44

    I mean, it's a very dangerous game, in a foolish game to speak for anybody else. I'm very heartened by the fact that Safari has their tech preview, they clearly are moving much faster than they have before. There's a lot of activity going on. In Safari these days supporting more web standards, Apple is clearly moving in a more aggressive way to support the web and has ever had in the past. So this to me is really good sign. And I would assume that it's entirely up to Apple to say, when the Physical Web is huge, we'll consider it and that's perfectly reasonable. So I'm not going to fault them for not jumping on the bandwagon right now. But, but as the Physical Web grows, I hope they would consider it.

    Steve Statler 12:24

    It's great. And I think you've done gone beyond the expected in terms of making this kind of a non partisan issue, or you've been really careful in the way that you talk about it. And so hopefully, it's not ruffling feathers. And that decision will just be made on its merits. Can you tell us a little bit about the history? How did you think of this? And when did you think of it? When did you come up with the idea in your 20%? Time? Or did you join Google with a view that aren't this is a company that could really take this idea and do something with it.

    Scott Jenson 12:59

    I started. I started publishing and writing fairly late in my career. And so in 2011, for I think it was interactions magazine, I wrote an article called The coming zombie apocalypse of smart devices. And it was about the fact like, in because I had been in mobile for an awful long time, I was just like, hey, these smart devices are coming. This seems like a problem. And it was just more kind of me as a UX designer, saying I'm scared. And that was the article that started it. And then I wrote a following article about the UX of data about moving things in the cloud. And I started in ISO, and like, so often, one article kind of leads to the next and just kind of followed my nose. And then I was at Frog Design at the time. And then I wrote, the blog post called Mobile Apps must die, which taught me very, very clearly that you should never ever, ever have a clickbait article for a title. I mean, the title and I was just, I just, I got so much grief for that I've learned I will never do that, again, marketing encouraged me to do that. They thought it was awesome, you know. But that got an awful lot of traction. And that was the one that kind of really got things going. And it's where I kind of really laid this thing out. And, and in so just kind of grew over time. And, and this is what I love about it, where it kind of fell in love with kind of the open source idea of how you take your ideas, and you share them and use them. And so I would talk about a smart toaster, and people would say that's ridiculous. No one wants a smart toaster. And I'm like, Well, you're right. They don't, but they probably want a toaster with a manual. You know, and they want a toaster with recipes and they want and then that was where I kind of developed my idea of a stupid device, you know, and then and how actually having a webpage for Super devices actually kind of awesome. And I wouldn't have gotten there if I hadn't been talking about it in a slightly naive way and becoming more nuanced. So this took about two or three years for tomato to mature. And before it became clear, like no, really, honestly, just just a web page is a cool idea. And so However, that being said, I can't tell you So how many people have told me this is an absolutely stupid idea. But because it's so simple, and it's so minimal, and it's such a thin layer, that it allows the web to be awesome on top of us. So we're just solving this one little issue, which is to get you to the web fast. And then as the web gets more and more awesome, we kind of end up looking even cooler, but it's almost kind of an accident, to be honest.

    Steve Statler 15:23

    So do you think you would have got to where you ended up and you're thinking if you hadn't been writing about it? I mean, clearly Writing helps other people know what you're thinking, but do you think it actually changed your thought process? Your creative process?

    Scott Jenson 15:38

    Absolutely, absolutely. And more than more than anything else speaking about it, so I would I would give a talk and I'd get a ton of questions and half of them I couldn't answer, or I'd answer them very poorly. I mean, I specifically remember speaking at Moeller molar actions, I believe it was an Amsterdam, and I got a really tough question with a smart toaster. And I just was like, damn, I really messed that up. And then it forced me to really think on it, I got another another article out of it. And so you know, but that's just to me, this, this whole community of ideas. And, again, that's what also kind of started me realizing that we did this, it has to be open source. And it has to be on GitHub, and we have to have these conversations. And so I think we've really kind of used that crucible to make sure that these ideas are vetted and discussed by the community.

    Steve Statler 16:24

    Fascinating. So this was all done a from design or the early days is the Frog Design. How did the transition to Google happen? Did they know that they were hiring the architects of the Physical Web with a view to you actually making it happen?

    Scott Jenson 16:43

    Yeah, it's kind of hard to claim it was so deliberate, I think it was just an opportunity for me to come back to Google. They've known me before, I made a pitch to them that I'd really like to make this work. I think they were kind of like, in many cases with Google, they just hire General, General people to do general projects. I was given a little bit of a runway to say, hey, let's see how far you can run with this. And, and so that's where I spent those first six months, you know, trying to cobble together 20% time and, and talk my way into Google IO. So if I hadn't been able to put something together probably in six months, I think it would have been very different, but fortunately, worked out the way that way.

    Steve Statler 17:19

    Yeah, very good. All right. Well, let's, let's talk a little bit about something go back to something that you mentioned, which was, this has moved from Chrome into Android. And at one level, I understand what that means. But what are the implications of that change? Why why make the change?

    Scott Jenson 17:40

    It's just simply a matter of saying, oh, you know, this is shouldn't necessary. This, this is probably better as a system service. So that you know whether you have Chrome or not, the point is, you can always find these things. And then when you click on it, it'll take you to whatever, you know, browser that you happen to have, right? Again, Android has this intent model. So that way, if you don't use Chrome, and you actually have another browser installed, you can still get these URLs and still launch them into your browser. So it seems like the right architectural way for it to go.

    Steve Statler 18:07

    Okay. And so this used to be called URI beacon, and you got the Physical Web, and now it's called Eddystone. URL. Is there any difference between Eddystone URL and the Physical Web? Or are they just synonyms?

    Scott Jenson 18:22

    We initially when we started doing this, we wanted to talk about simply the beacon itself, and then the service that looks for the beacons. So when we first got started, we called it URI beacon. And then as it matured, and kind of, you know, metamorphosized, into a proper thing that Google kind of sanctioned, it just changed his name to Eddystone. So and in Eddystone, of course, has multiple frame types, one of which is the URL. So in a sense, you know, the URI beacon became the Eddystone URL frame. And that's just simply the beacon layer. And then the Physical Web is meant to be the service that finds them. And that's helpful, because as I said before, in our conversation, we won't be able to find URLs using Wi Fi, for example. Well, in that case, we won't be using Eddystone at all, but we'll still be finding URLs.

    Steve Statler 19:10

    Interesting. So is there any integration, and you've got a naming, intubate integration got Eddystone, UID, Eddystone TLM? You've got then proximity API, which is this way of keeping track of where beacons are? Is there actually any integration between Eddystone URL, the physical web and the rest of Eddystone?

    Scott Jenson 19:35

    Well, Eddystone, again, there's just these basic frame types. And that can be used in multiple ways. And so much like the Physical Web, I think, is a scanner for URLs. The nearby API is the scanner for UU IDs and TLM packets. So it's kind of a Google service is built on top of those. You don't have to use the nearby API to use you know, the Eddystone UID is so it's just simply a you know, it's Android has a scanning service to find these beacons and tie them in Did the Google infrastructure so just just a service layer on top?

    Steve Statler 20:03

    I don't do I have to I don't have to have registered an Eddystone URL beacon with the proximity service, which is something I need to do with a TLM or UID. Beacon, is that correct?

    Scott Jenson 20:16

    That's, that's the fundamental difference is that we have effectively, there's two different ends, we have something that's very closely tied to Google services, and all the benefits that can come with that. And then you've got something that's a lot more lightweight and more kind of, of the web. And the story that we tell there is that we're really excited when, for example, of small, high school, you know, in Tennessee decides they want to put up a beacon on their trophy case, so that when people walk in, they can see YouTube videos of how those beacons were won. That's just a principle that just basically took a beacon just slapped a URL in there and just stuck it up and boom, he didn't have to ask anybody's permission. And that's exactly kind of the spirit of the web that we get excited by.

    Steve Statler 20:52

    Yeah, it's definitely one of the things that excited me when I first heard you talk about it. And the fact is, I believe you're cutting that cost of entering into this beacon ecosystem, by a couple of orders of magnitude, if it takes, you know, 100k, or even less, maybe to create an app. You know, I think there's a large number of people in my family, my kids, my wife could create a webpage that could work with with Eddystone URL. So you've really lowered the barrier to entry.

    Scott Jenson 21:22

    Well, it's like we just did an experiment using beacons with the Computer History Museum here in Mountain View, they already had a mobile website, and they had pages for the key exhibits. So they didn't even have to do anything. We just literally came in, took 30 beacons programmed each one to kind of go to their URL for each exhibit and put them up and we were done in 20 minutes. You know, so see that. So if you are, I often get this question, well, what's the SDK for the Physical Web, and I'm like, it's the web, you know, so if you have a web page, you're done. And then you just simply just scatter a couple of beacons around. So it's important to think it really kind of shifts your thinking, right. And so as long as you can kind of start with a web page, it gets really easy from there.

    Steve Statler 22:08

    So I don't know whether you found this. But I think when you whenever you work in a large company that just inherently has a lot of power in the market. And there's a lot of suspicion that gets leveled at you. I used to work at Qualcomm. And I was just amazed at how emotional people would get about stuff that really had nothing to do with me, but then they would sort of think that there was this vast conspiracy. So where this is leading to is I think, you know, in the past, Google has done things in retail, especially where retailers have been very suspicious. But so the distinction that I think is really important is the fact that people don't need to register your URL beacons with this proximity API. So Google doesn't necessarily know where these beacons are. But the thing that then kind of perked up my ears and I just for a moment was concerned, was when you started talking more about the proxy, this proxy? And that seems potentially be this way of keeping track of things and inserting Google into the flow and totally, was that right?

    Scott Jenson 23:17

    No, absolutely. I mean, I love this question, because it's how we, we've talked about it. What the my the running joke I say is that everyone loves open source, as long as you do all the work. And so right now, we have the beacon, we got lots of examples of Beacon code. And we have a couple of different scanners, iOS, and Android, and there's no Jas and then we've got a bunch of different scanners, all of its open source. And we have our proxy service as a scanner, it's available on the GitHub. Now, right now, no one's building those because they want us to establish the market, they want everything to be kind of established and safe and, and perfectly validated so that anybody can come in and it's perfectly safe. But then, of course, you point out that then we're the only one that's written the proxy service. Now, that's why though, we are thrilled that opera has done their version and beta, and they have their own proxy service. So if for some reason you don't want to use Google use opera, and it works perfectly well. And honestly, we really hope that other people do proxy services. Now, we understand though, that you know that a proxy service is not something that an individual developer will do, and most likely a browser company will do it. And it's a bigger, more substantial thing to invent. But here's the critical point. At any point, anyone can write it, and everything will work exactly the same. So if people want Google to kind of take the lead, and do all of this great, as soon as the physical web becomes a runaway success, these things can happen. And because all the URLs are being broadcast in the exact same way, there's no advantage. I mean, anybody can have a competing one, they can still find the same beacons, they can still rank them right. So we very much want to kind of innocence be on the right side of history. And we really believe, as you've talked, I very sincerely believe that we have to grow the pie. Because it doesn't work. It's not a long term plan to create a siloed system that locks people out. And so we just so I want to acknowledge your point that right now, the Google AWS web service is kind of a central point for us. But the point is, is that we very much want there to be others. And we've built it that way.

    Steve Statler 25:28

    Let's, I may have skipped over this a little bit, can you just give us the basics on what what are the benefits of using that proxy service?

    Scott Jenson 25:36

    It has I, on my blog @jensen.org, I have an article about privacy, that maybe we can kind of include in your notes, that talks about all the different things that we do, because we deeply want to protect the user. So if I can quickly go through the beacons broadcast one way so that the beacons don't know that you're there, so the beacons can't track you, we then get the URL, and then we don't hit the website directly from the phone, because then the website could track you, we go to the PWA s, and the PWA s then contacts the website on your behalf. Most of the time, it's already cached. So therefore it doesn't, it comes back right away. And that saves you a ton of data. So let's say you find six URLs, you send one request up to the host, you get all six back, and then you get the title, the favicon, that description. And so again, that protects the user so that they can't, in fact, if it's cached, the website doesn't even know that anyone is there. And then after you get the list, then you say, Oh, I really want to go to, you know, the movie theater. And you click on it. Now, of course, you're going to a webpage, but now you've you've opted in, and the user has made that volition. So these are all the advantages both from a data point of view and from a privacy point of view that we think it makes a huge difference to people to have this.

    Steve Statler 26:47

    Okay, so you're doing what Google does best in terms of the sorting or prioritizing the relevancy. But there's also kind of a level of indirection that protects people's privacy?

    Scott Jenson 26:59

    At multiple levels, by the way, and that's also, by the way, why we require HTTPS, we're getting a little bit of grumpy response to that, it does make it a little bit harder for people to kick tires and get started. But again, HTTP, HTTPS is all about preventing snooping and man in the middle attacks, it's ultimately much, much better for consumers to have that. So we're really trying to lock this down. So consumers are in control and safe.

    Steve Statler 27:24

    So why is Google doing this? How did you I'm assuming you've kind of had to sell this internally? What were the benefits that you pitched? And why do you think the people that control the purse strings have decided to go in on this? Because they really do seem to have committed? Which one time there was like those of us that thought, this is a fantastic idea. But is it really gonna get adopted? And everyone was worried that it wouldn't appear in Chrome? And now it's actually right into Android? But why?

    Scott Jenson 27:55

    I get this question a lot, which is like, how are you guys making money? I mean, as if making money in the short term is the only possible reason to do something. And to me, it's the answer is, well, like, how does the web make money? Well, the web doesn't the web is is this big, giant, awesome thing. And then you can find individual pieces to do it. And so what we're trying to do is to say, pi, let's just make this big, awesome. Next Level of the web be in this physical space. And, and the only way that's really going to be trusted and explored and used is if it's just like the web, there'll be lots of ways for many companies to make money on top of this, that won't be the problem. The point is, it's not going to succeed unless we build it like the web has been built. And so I think Google, and that's why, for example, this came, I mean, I like to say this comes from Google, but it really comes from Chrome, from team also is it's just a browser, right? And it's just about it's open source, and it's trying to make other browsers better. It's about improving the web. And so in that sense, I think the Physical Web is very much in the overall spirit of Chrome, which is just let's make the web better.

    Steve Statler 29:09

    So you, if I was the finance guy in Google, then I would just look at this instead, say, This just makes the pie bigger. And we have so many different ways of monetizing a bigger pie. This makes sense to do. Is that a reasonable?

    Scott Jenson 29:25

    Of course, never. That's totally hypothetical. But I mean, the whole reason chrome doing service worker, for example, but another cool web technology or chrome, championing web Bluetooth, I mean, what's the money? There's no money thing in either one of those things. But what it is, is it just makes the web more useful and practical. And we're able to do more interesting things. So to me, it's just like service worker and web Bluetooth. It's just another technology that just makes the web awesome. And that's kind of why we're here. Yeah. And so I don't think you necessarily have to have a finance guy approve it. You just have to say, is this like the The other 25 things we've already done, that is exactly the same as those other things. So that's why it fits.

    Steve Statler 30:06

    Can we think it's pretty obvious that this is huge, but can you share some metrics in terms of how big this is? You know, how many Android phones are there out there? How many phones? Is the Physical Web on? Do you? Are you able to talk about any kind of sizing in terms of adoption or rate of adoption that you're seeing?

    Scott Jenson 30:30

    Well, I mean, the fact that we're on all Android phones obviously speaks for itself. There's a few of those out there. And the fact that we were on Chrome is also quite large. The biggest issue for us, though, is that because again, we take privacy. So seriously, the users have to opt in, right? We just don't start I mean, we do show you that there's something that's nearby, and we offer you to opt in. But if you say no, then we never bother you again. And so part of our issue is, yes, we're on every Android phone. And we're on lots and lots of iPhones. But we have to get users to actually turn it on. So there is that kind of hurdle that we have to kind of work on. As far as adoption goes, we only really shipped an Android two months ago, and we only shipped in I'm sorry, you only shipped in Chrome, Android two months ago, and in Android yesterday. So it's just too early to say all I can tell you is our physical web service is getting a lot of hits, right. And people are playing with it and getting a lot a lot going on. So we're very excited to see that people are getting are using this a lot.

    Steve Statler 31:25

    Cool. And what are people using it for? It would be great to spend a bit of time exploring a breadth of use cases, just now that we've discussed kind of what it is, how is it actually being used.

    Scott Jenson 31:38

    I mean, it's being used in so many ways. And that's the part that is so awesome to me is that it's being used in ways that we hadn't envisioned, I can massively geek out with you about URL redirects. There's amazing things happening at that space. But the big thing that we talked about is kind of the hello world of Physical Web, which is that you've got like one beacon and you got one URL. And that can be used in a retail space that can just be used for an object that you want, you know, and so forth. And then the next pace beyond that would be like what we did a Google I O, which is you have the same URL. But now you take 15 beacons, and you just spread them around. So everywhere you go at Google I O, you pull it down, you can get the schedule. And it's that kind of, oh, it's just a web page that makes people's eyes kind of go, this isn't my grandmother's beacon. You know, it's just in this idea of having a single URL, whether you have one or many beacons is the first thing and it allows you to do conferences, it allows you to just simple retail, it allows you to do mall maps, it lets you do lost dog collars that let you do vending machines. You know, it even lets you do real like real simple, like trail maps, where every time you go on the trail that you can get something. So this is an incredibly simple model of a single URL, a single beacon to a single web page. And yet, look at what it unlocks. Now, we can get more interactive, and I can crank it up for if you want to. But I'm just saying is, I think this basic pattern of having a place or a thing give you information, we're seeing being used by lots of people.

    Steve Statler 33:08

    Yeah, I think that simplicity is really exciting as far as getting people to start. But there's a lot of places you can go. And we had the CEO of Proxima on the gara second or third show, and he was talking about this work they've done with the buses. And yeah, that was very exciting. And that almost, it's sort of using some of the things that you were talking about, I think service workers and so forth were this boundary between what you'd expect from an app and what you'd expect from the web, it really does seem to finally be blending in at a level that it never has done before other kind of appy type things that you can talk about, what have you seen the other end of the spectrum?

    Scott Jenson 33:59

    Well, and this is what I meant by the fact that we're doing this razor thin thing, right? We're discovering who you are all taking you to the web page. And the web is just getting the mobile web. It's just getting awesome. And it makes us look good. And let's be clear. It's the we're just the web is making us look good. So the proximal example if people aren't familiar with it, I'm sure that the Transport for London example is you get on the bus, you see the notification. And it says, Hi, you're in bus 53. Here's the next 10 bus stops when you getting off and you click on the bus. And then because it's a progressive web app, it registers for push notifications. So you said yes, you turn your phone off, or you put asleep you put it in your pocket. And then when you get close to that, but that stop, your phone will vibrate. Because you've opted in now, the Physical Web is not vibrating. The website is vibrating. And you get and you get off. I mean, this is awesome. And the Physical Web didn't change. Our API didn't change. So that's to me to your point of the push notifications. As a good example, this is getting really really cool.

    Steve Statler 34:59

    I know because we talked a little bit about music, and that's gonna be at the end of the interview. We have similar tastes and Brubeck, Steely Dan. But I think we also share an interest in vending machines. And he's someone in my office for several months, with with a beacon inside it back in the courtroom days, and that was just really cool, because you have this web thing that's controlling a very physical thing that is most vending machines are sold fashion. I interested in just hearing any other examples of Physical Web enable and control of devices. Is there anything else?

    Scott Jenson 35:42

    That's a great setup question, because first of all, I mean, the first thing I built was a vending machine, which I, you know, I bought on Craigslist, and I hauled it into the office myself, I ripped out the guts and put in a Raspberry Pi. And people are often like, wait a second, I mean, I have I have fingers, I have quarters. What are you doing? And we're like, well, two things. One is we're just trying to just show that it's possible. And second, it unlocks a whole series of things. Imagine going up to the vending machine that sells at dollar objects, and so forth. And now you can kind of do it in a much more interesting way. Or you could buy things for friends. Or you could walk up to the vending machine goes, Hi, Scott, do you want to have a coke again today, or guess what we're not for you a two for one. And so the vending machine can now offer you a types of interactions you can't get, let's just put it in quarters. But, and that uses what we kind of called a cloud pass through where the vending machine has got internet, I've got Internet, and then we run a fool in the cloud. So that when I click a button on that website, the website sends a socket to a WebSocket message to that machine and it drops the candy. And when people see that they don't appreciate how fast this all is. But what gets people really excited is this web Bluetooth. And then if you go to physical dash web.org, that's kind of our landing page for the GitHub. We have an examples page with a bunch of videos, and one of them shows this little robot that you can drive around. And the robots broadcasting the URL, it actually is an off the shelf robot that has off the shelf Bluetooth 4 billion BLE built into it. And we just basically find the webpage connects to it, and then drive it around. And so you can literally walk up to the toy and start to control it. And we just think that really blows people's minds because people realize now that you can really do things with objects in front of you and not have to install an app at all really lightweight stuff.

    Steve Statler 37:28

    Very good. One detailed question bank to the size piece. All of this is dependent if you're using Bluetooth beacons, at least that people have Bluetooth turned on, do you have any insights as to how many people have Bluetooth turned on at the moment versus turning it off, because they're worried about that battery, or?

    Scott Jenson 37:48

    We've done a couple of preliminary, you know, surveys and poked around and gotten pretty strong numbers like over 50%. And we feel that number is growing. It's mostly growing because of things like Bluetooth headsets, and car stereos and things like that. If the rumors are true for the new iPhone seven, it's gonna be even higher, because that's all Bluetooth based. So we definitely see that it is not this really super low number that everyone's worried about. It's actually high enough. And And again, most people turn it off for old reasons people mistakenly believe that turning Bluetooth on sucks your battery. And that was true early, early on when we had bad Bluetooth chips. But now it takes hardly anything at all. So we think this is gonna change over time.

    Steve Statler 38:29

    Very good. And lastly, anything else that we can cover on the future? Where do you think this is going? It seems like you know, almost your work is done. You've kind of did the evangelism, you've got it really embedded into the operating system? Are you going to move on to something else? Or is there still a lot of work to be done?

    Scott Jenson 38:48

    Oh, my goodness, no, yeah, this is just just just day one. I mean, obviously, we talked before we Bluetooth and then we want to work on other transports. We also want to continue to improve the user interface because as people rightly point out, if this is successful, this could be noisy, right, you can find lots of things. And so we're going to then start to get a more sophisticated UI. And again, this is where multiple scanners can kind of compete and keep keep each other honest. So we'll move to a mark on something where we say, Oh, look at here's the top X beacons that we know because people click through, we know that these are the more popular ones. But guess what, here's all the other ones that you might want to see. Or possibly even let you search and then give you sub lists. So we think that it's better, you know, taking the UI improving it, always improving the filtering and the spam and that kind of thing. We have, for example, in the Android version, we've added this feature so that you can swipe away a result. And then once you swipe that away, you'll never see it again. Let's say that you really really don't want to see, you know, Sam's hot dogs or something and you happen to work next to Sam's hot dogs, then you swipe up. It's just gone. So again, that level of control the people were experimenting with ideas about saying Dang oh, I want to like star this one. So that this is another like you always want to see your home control system. So we feel like putting an awful lot of effort into how these things are ranked and sorted and presented to users will keep us busy for a little while that plus transports.

    Steve Statler 40:15

    Excellent. Let's go. I think that's it from my side. I really appreciate your time. It's been fascinating talking to you, you really are making a change in in people's lives in terms of the way they use this technology. And it's been a real privilege to pick your brains and hear what you're thinking about and how we got to where we got to.

    Scott Jenson 40:34

    There are great questions. Happy to be here. Thanks.

    Steve Statler 40:41

    So Scott, did you have you seen the Martian? The movie The Martian?

    Scott Jenson 40:45

    Yes. And read the book.

    Steve Statler 40:47

    All right. Very good. I and it's the kind of thing that I can imagine. Like, they'd show everyone at Google.

    Scott Jenson 40:55

    Possibly, yeah.

    Steve Statler 40:57

    So anyway, so the so the, the question is, if you were the Martian, if you are this lone person from NASA, you're stranded on the planet. And you have to, you're basically supplying your own music, which would be the three albums that you would be listening to for that year. Plus that you're stuck on Mars?

    Scott Jenson 41:18

    Ah, okay, well, definitely not disco, would definitely not do that. I actually, so I have to say that, if my listening has changed dramatically over the years, it used to be that I did have my albums, I collected them, and I coveted certain things, right. And so there's the albums that I just remember growing up with and have a strong nostalgia for me like Brubeck Take Five, for example. I know it's a classic, and you can listen to it forever. But then there's the high school album that I listened to literally in my car, like 1000 times, which was Steely Dan Asia. You know, I just, I just had that album memorized. And it's just so emotionally cathartic for me just to just let that album play, because of course, just it just takes me back. And then probably, if I just kind of just needed that kind of I really like things like the Brandenburg Concertos, when I just simply just wants to kind of, you know, I want to think I just want to just have something to kind of keep me kind of put my brain on rails. So I have something that's kind of more engaging something that's more kind of historical, and then something that's, you know, just just kind of what you need to get the work done. And I have to admit, I've listened to all of those quite a bit. In fact, to a certain extent, I'm actually trying really hard these days to not listen to those anymore, and to force myself to listen to new artists.

    Steve Statler 42:42

    So I can empathize with everything that you've said. I think we're probably born similar time and love Steely Dan, even though I grew up in England and that they weren't quite as big there. Okay, well, thanks very much for sharing that. That's fantastic.