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Mister Beacon Episode #98

The Return of the Physical Web

November 12, 2019

The Physical Web: What is it, what happened to it, and what is the Physical Web Association’s response? This week on Mr. Beacon we have two of the Co-Founders of the Physical Web Association, Agustin Musi and James Grant, joining us to give us the scoop on the Physical Web’s past struggles as well as it’s promising future. Listen in to learn how the Physical Web provides a better alternative to developing an app, typing in a URL, or scanning a QR code, and how it provides a level playing field for content delivery.


  • Narration 0:07

    The Mr. Beacon podcast is sponsored by Wiliot, scaling IoT with battery free Bluetooth.

    Steve Statler 0:16

    Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast this week, the topic is return of the Physical Web association. So there's obvious or maybe not obvious stuff. Star Wars reference, we, the Physical Web, for me at least was like the new hope of app free. No typing of URLs, seamless discovery of information about places and things around us. And then the Empire struck back Google. Google dropped it. And and now we have the return of the Physical Web Association. And specifically, we've got James Grant and Augustan musi sir. Thanks, gentlemen, for joining us. Thanks for having us. And this is the first time we've had two, two guests simultaneous August in where are you?

    Agustin Musi 1:13

    I'm currently in Sir, in Switzerland,

    Steve Statler 1:15

    and James, where are you?

    James Grant 1:17

    Just north of London in the UK,

    Steve Statler 1:20

    as is appropriate for your accent. And as it's not appropriate for my accent? I'm in San Diego. So loads of questions for you guys. I do want to recap a bit about what is the physical web and I'm gonna ask you basically what attracted you to it? And in that way, hopefully, we can make it a more interesting discussion of what it is because many people know, but too many people don't know. So we'll cover that. And I want your analysis of what happened to the Physical Web, then, you know, how did you respond to it? And then what's the news, you guys represent a an association that's sort of doing some really interesting things. Williard has just joined it. And so maybe I'll talk a bit about that. But the key thing I'd like to get into is why, you know, what is this new inst instantiation of the Physical Web? And why will this work? So lots to cover. Before that, I do want to do a quick shout out to Starbucks. So Starbucks are not a sponsor of this show. But to get a little bit personal, my my son's eldest son's 19, he's on the autism spectrum. And Starbucks have got this amazing program where they offer people with disabilities the opportunity to work there. And, you know, if you've got a kid with, with autism, then that in school can be challenging, but there's a lot of support systems in place when they leave school. And basically, they're on their own. They, it's really tough. And so we're having a company that will give them a job and coaching and support is, is, is an amazing thing. And the folks here in San Diego at the Dorinda branch have been super welcoming and supportive. So congratulations to Starbucks for, you know, really doing an amazing thing. So getting all emotional, let's talk about computers and technology and, and move on from from that. So, James Augustan, what was it that attracted you to the Physical Web?

    Agustin Musi 3:42

    James, you want to take start?

    James Grant 3:44

    Sure, yeah. Yeah, no problem. So for those who don't know, the Physical Web is an open beacon technology for information delivery. And in its simplest form, a beacon transmits a very short URL, which nearby smartphones can detect, and therefore go to the relevant website without having to type in a web address. And it was originally conceived by Google engineers as an open source project. And it was in I had various incarnations. At one point, it was baked into Google Chrome on iOS. And at one point, it was baked into the Android notifications in stock Android. Google kind of abandoned the project about a year ago, and slowly but surely kind of strict about that functionality. But nevertheless, there's a lot of people like myself, and like Paul Austin, who believed that that was the right approach to using beacons for information delivery to have an open standard that anyone can use and build upon, rather than kind of very siloed individual experiences. So that's what kind of attracted me to the Physical Web. And also the idea that although Google abandoned the project, I still think it had very solid foundations and I still think that there is a really strong need for it in the market. And kind of my goal with inside the organization He's really just to see that original vision tree.

    Steve Statler 5:02

    And, James, what have you been doing with the Physical Web? How did you it appealed to you intellectually? I'm assuming you've been using it.

    James Grant 5:13

    Yeah, absolutely. So my my personal history with beacons is quite long, I run a small company called Live beacon, which creates a content delivery platform for for beacons. And it existed before the physical web standard even did. But when Physical Web was was announced, I thought, Yes, this is the best approach something that's open that anybody else can use. And and we rush to kind of make sure that our products supported that open standard. Does that answer your question? Yeah, I

    Steve Statler 5:42

    think it does. Augusten. How about you? What was it that that kind of clicked with you? And how did you embrace the original manifestation of the Physical Web?

    Agustin Musi 5:56

    Well, fairly aligned to the idea that James was brought up, he said, I have a company that's not say depending but that leveraging the technology becomes the company is called fire me. And the intention is really to develop hybrid information exchange between paper and digital. So we were quite focused on physical weapons and technology would really make that really viable on a large scale. And, and then the, in the course of decisions from Google and their changes, it became clear that that, you know, while they might be leaving behind, that was really significant opportunity for us to pick up and steward the direction of where, where the initial intention physical I was, was, was, was going to, to go. So what for for the opportunity. I mean, obviously, initially, it was quite a little bit discouraged, to see that Google had abandoned and then it sort of turned around the other direction to realize that this opportunity not only allowed us to take it the direction that we would want it to be, but also to open it up more to the community and bring multiple participants without particular vendors agenda, driving the the adoption of a client, the adoption of the notification logic or anything else. So it was really kind of this this, I would say in a in a nice way, a bit of a guest that that Google said, Well, I think we're done with it. And they handed over to the committee. So now it's now it's really up to purchase participation and active participation by by not only vendors, but anyone who wants to leverage the technology that, you know, it's funny about about the technology itself, it's not really relevant, as much as it is the content behind, right. So most of the most of the engagements that you're going to get with with any sort of sensor technology is going to be driven mostly around what what people want to do with it. And, and so that's part of where we were initially motivated. And then from, from our business point of view, and then later to the direction of the actual passionate of, of building something that's decentralized. And and that that woke up not just James and myself, but several other participants that were kind of building dependencies on their business dependencies on that technology. Some members of the organization had companies and others were just hobbyists just wanted to get get involved. And so we have quite the, say, an active group of people that are that are really wanting to see the now that they understand the vision and the direction, they want to take it a little bit further. So that's, that's the baseline for it.

    Steve Statler 8:39

    So just to clarify, what is the physical web Association?

    Agustin Musi 8:47

    Well, let me answer that question from the the basis of our our intention is to steward this open source technology, and to to gather, let's say, the set of resources and focus that towards not just having something like a universal client, which is one of the items that we want to do, but also continue and develop services and support to be a bit resilient. So it's not that that this technology is somehow abandoned by by a corporation later, and then all these companies are invested something into it, and then they're just left behind. So it's a bit like sustainability as a play. And it might be that at some point in the future, after we're, we've sort of get this a little bit further lifted. It might be that the community drives it forward. And we're not necessarily the only participants that are sort of stewarding be opening up to the to the community. So that in essence is why it's an association and it's also why it's or what his priorities are. From a from the idea of it being a Swiss organization. It just happened to be a very good location for it. That's been tried and true. So

    Steve Statler 10:00

    yeah, we, we sometimes use this as a metaphor, you are Switzerland, and you're literally you are Switzerland, you're in Switzerland, and it's incorporated in, in Switzerland. So very, very much a neutral party. And, and, you know, as an observer of the Physical Web, on one hand, you know, one of its greatest strengths originally, and its first manifestation was, hey, it's been adopted by Google, and they can put it right into the heart of Android. But the flip side of that was, it was no, I don't think anyone could imagine Apple saying, oh, yeah, those guys had a really good idea. And they got there first, and now we're gonna get on the wagon. It just doesn't happen that way, does it? So? So I think there's definitely some benefits in in New neutrality. So I interrupted you carry on?

    Agustin Musi 10:47

    No, that's exactly what I was gonna say. So that's fine. It's, it's the advantage of dismissing Tality. In this case, it's obviously there's no real NFCs with some besides the organization's corporate structure or structure, and not corporate structure, but structure. Okay. And, of course, you know, there's there's a big future for for sensors in general, right, we know that for sure. And it's a question of being able to open up the adoption of it outside of some sort of specific utility function, right? information delivery. One of the aspects that seems thrown up in the beginning was that this is an extremely efficient form of serving up information for for for devices that you carry with you or having some sort of engagement. And not everybody really understands that from the point of view of that sort of the old school version of beacons, right? Where there was an impossible set of criteria to be fulfilled, in order to have a relevant engagement. And then by reducing some of the complexity, and that's what really fiscal web does, it really opens up the potential for engagement. Now, there were some constraints, right? There were some constraints that were brought forward and some excuses that Google were up for it, as well as say why they see the future in it. And that's not something we necessarily think is unsolvable. I'm, in fact, actually, we're certainly it's solvable. So in that way, just to frame it a little bit better. The purpose of the technology itself is to enable something relevant to happen to not only utility, but also, you know, consumers interest.

    Steve Statler 12:17

    Very good. So if, if this, if this association is successful, you will have first thing is you'll have some neutral browsers that will take the place of what was there before? Tell us what the state of play is there.

    James Grant 12:39

    Yeah, shall I? Shall I take this one? Yep. Yeah, so. So Google originally released the physical web app for iOS and Android, this was probably three, four years ago now. And they eventually kind of replaced that functionality with a small widget that was built into Chrome on iOS. And as we talked about Native notifications on Android, but both of those features or functionality has been removed. Now, what we've done is we've rewritten the original physical web app as a standalone application. It's available now on iOS. And hopefully, by the time this podcast is released, it will be available on Android as well. So a universal experience across both of those platforms. But as always, instead, I think, like a universal app is is necessary just to give a lane, a level playing field for content delivery. And so it doesn't matter who you are, whether you're a content creator, a content owner or a beacon hardware manufacturer, that there is a very, very simple and very, very universal way to use beacons to deliver information.

    Steve Statler 13:43

    So at a practical level, how does a company that wants to create content for this physical web thing? How do they do that? And how do they make sure that their customers can get to it with this new paradigm?

    James Grant 14:02

    Yes, so as it stands at the moment, it's pretty easy, but it could be even easier. So at the moment, if you buy some beacons from any number of hardware manufacturers, whether that's estimate or contact or Willie out in the future, you can use a smartphone to configure that Bluetooth beacon to transmit a short URL. So typically speaking, it transmits a very short URL. And then we use a URL shortener or a URL redirection service online in order to point that to some other content. So that might be a specific page of content or whatever it may be. That's that's where we stand at the moment. I think one of the goals of the association in the mid term is to make that experience even easier, because it's relatively easy to program a single beacon, but it's relatively that's quite trivial, but it's quite a pain to do that for hundreds of beacons. example. So one of the one of the initiatives, we would like to start as a kind of universal standard that we could work with hardware vendors so that small organization and hobbyists are able to buy beacons that are pre configured with the URL that they already have access to. Therefore, meaning that you get your beacon through the post. And there's there's no physical pairing necessary between your smartphone and the device to configure it, you can configure it entirely via cloud portal. And again, this exists already by some vendors to some degrees, but it's quite a fragmented experience. It's dependent on the hardware vendor depend on the model depends on what you're trying to do. It's different. And so we're just hoping to simplify that experience to make deploying beacons as easy as possible.

    Steve Statler 15:45

    And so what what are the physical? What are the web URL shorteners that people can use today, if I'm just a hobbyist, or I want to do a proof of concept, what can I do today to take the limited packet length payload, the restricted URL length and expand that into something which is as big as I need it to be?

    James Grant 16:07

    Sure. So historically, Google used to offer a beacon URL shortener, but I believe they've sunsetted it now. So the previous links still work. But they're now no longer accepting new URLs to be created. There's a number of companies out there that offer URL shorteners, not specifically for beacons, but they can be used for that purpose perfectly, such as Bitly, Tiny URL. Alternatively, a lot of people choose to do it themselves, which requires a little bit more work. But it means that the base URL so the beginning part is a domain that they own. So it's very common to register a very short but relatively obscure URL, and then create some pages on that URL specifically for the purpose of redirection. And lots of kinds of Beacon hobbyists opt for that route. But as I said, that's kind of an additional step in the process that while not particularly hard, as we all know, every time that there's kind of a fork in the road of what you could do, it's something that you need to spend some time considering and evaluating, especially before you roll out hundreds or 1000s of these things. So I think what we really want to do is, is paint a very, very clear picture of not the only path because of course, there will always be applications for beacons outside of the Physical Web that aren't relevant. But we want to paint a very, very clear and simple path for the vast majority of people wanting to use beacons, specifically for information delivery.

    Steve Statler 17:35

    And let's kind of get to a couple of the essential things that make this strategy so compelling for even larger organizations, which is, you know, what is the cost of creating content for the Physical Web, versus the alternative, which is, you know, either you develop an app, or you persuade people to type in a URL or tap an NFC tag, oh, scan a QR code. And, you know, just historically as a consultant, and one of my clients was San Diego airport, so they have millions of people, 10s of millions of people came through the airport, we put some posters up in the in the airport, which was actually promoting carbon offsetting scheme called the good traveler, still running. And it's actually expanded to many other airports now. But we have these smart posters. And we experimented. And we put a QR code on some of them, we put an NFC tag on others, we had URLs that people could type in, and then we had physical web beacons. And basically, we, we had differences in those URLs. So we could track the conversion rate from all of those methods. And essentially, there was a 50 to one ratio 51, two, to one ratio, if you added up all the people that typed in URLs, added them to all the people that went over with their phone, and tap the poster, and added that to all of the people that scan the QR code, you took that number and multiplied it by 50. That was the ratio of visitors to the good traveler website, between those rather cumbersome methods of discovery, and just getting a physical web URL on your phone and and, and tapping it. So that's one of the reasons why I believe in what you guys are doing, because I've seen that 50 to one ratio, and that's incredibly powerful fundamental to the to the discovery process. Just for going back to the cost of developing the contents on one and you've got the cost of developing an app. What does it time to create a website that can be used on the Physical Web may be a stupid question, but

    James Grant 19:56

    no, so Augustine, do you want to what shall I

    Agustin Musi 19:59

    do? No, go ahead.

    James Grant 20:02

    Yeah, well, I mean, if you're comparing developing an app versus a piece of content to deliver via physical web, it's, it's not even comparable. I mean, if you're an organization or an individual that already has a website, then you can use that existing content management system from that website, to generate a specific piece of content that's not visible to the rest of the website, but leverages your existing content management systems specifically to make beacon content, that's very easy. But Alternatively, you could use any number of free website building software like Squarespace or Wix, to create compelling beacon content. So it's more, yeah, you're delivering web content you're not delivering, you're not going through all of the effort of building an application. There are there are certain there are many decent reasons for using an app over a website. But it's not always appropriate. And I think certainly in this emerging market, where more and more devices and things are becoming internet enabled, that doesn't mean that every single device in your house or in your business needs its own dedicated app, I think that consumers will tire with that quick, pretty quickly.

    Steve Statler 21:14

    And there was some interesting work that was done with progressive web apps, which is, which is a technology that's independent of the Physical Web, which is essentially a discovery mechanism. But the talk a bit about what you can do with progressive web apps and, and what that experience can be like. And it's

    James Grant 21:33

    funny, you should mention that. So the Physical Web Association, our acronym is Pah, WA, because the PWA acronym is short for progressive web app. So obviously, we want it, we don't want any confusion there. But progressive web apps are essentially a website that can do a little bit more than a regular website, and it can access various sensors on your smartphone, and offer a certain level of offline functionality as well. And that's really, really interesting. I mean, one of the, one of the things we have on the roadmap for the Physical Web App is to integrate web Bluetooth support. And without getting lost in the weeds. I mean, that essentially means that you could via a physical web URL, you could access the interface for, for example, for an IoT device, a smart home device, but then via the Web Bluetooth protocol, it could enable two way communication between that device or within sight, the same app, the physical web app that is, and that's all without a dedicated app specifically for that appliance. So that's quite exciting.

    Steve Statler 22:33

    So what does that mean? That means the transport for the content becomes Bluetooth as opposed to Wi Fi or cellular? Is that it all?

    James Grant 22:43

    So yeah, so what it means. So the way Physical Web works, the way traditional beacons work, is there one way communication. The beacon is pinging out a unique identifier, or in the case of physical web a URL. But that communication is one way the smartphone has no ability to control the beacon. So in the example that I just painted, you would still have a one way communication between the beacon transmission. So the beacon would be transmitting a URL to the smartphone, which would provide a progressive web app that allows you so for example, let's say we're controlling, I don't know, a robotic remote control car, the content would still be received from the internet. Okay, well, once that content had basics had successfully been received by the physical web application, you get a prompt to allow Bluetooth access on the device. And then on top of that, the smartphone will be able to directly two way communication communicate with a smart device via Bluetooth. Oh, okay.

    Steve Statler 23:42

    So is this the kind of thing where you might use it for like talking to an appliance or a parking meter or something like that?

    James Grant 23:52

    Yeah, exactly. That it's where it's sort of scenarios where you need two way communication. And it's, it speaks to the progressive nature of progressive web app in the sense that the initial communication so the information being received, that's one way initially is the first step. And then it progressively enhances into two way communication between the smartphone and whatever the device is.

    Steve Statler 24:16

    Okay, so could be like an alarm clock, you have a web interface to an alarm clock, and you discover it through a physical web

    James Grant 24:23

    URL precisely rather than having to download a bespoke, non maintained app for no non a non branded alarm clock that you bought a few years ago. For all of these smaller plants, and you can imagine it happening with toys as well, let's say you've got an action figure and you can reprogram it with new voices. Again, that's something that's a relatively small amount of interactivity that traditionally would require a dedicated app be developed and maintained in order for that to work. And part of the problem with that historically as well is that even if they work on day one If you come back to them a couple of years later, the smartphone ecosystem loose forward. And sometimes you end up with apps that are completely non functional after a couple of years. Yes. Yeah.

    Agustin Musi 25:11

    This happened to me just a couple of days ago, you know that all that toy? The Spiro Yes, you know, you can draw a great little app that was really early adopter for it. And I just discovered it was cleaning out an old box. And I thought, wow, wonder great, I can see if it still works and introduce it. And none of my modern smartphones, could find an app for it anymore in there not supported. So you know, it's just it's exactly the point that that maintaining apps in the ecosystem aligned with the platform aligned with all this, it just becomes complex. And you know, these devices, they become winched, immediately because you just don't have any, you don't have any software to control them anymore.

    James Grant 25:54

    I will say that this Internet of Things use case is just one potential application of physical web technology. And actually, it's one of the more advanced applications. And the kind of the scenario that you outlined Stephen in an airport where you can receive information from a poster. That's the kind of traditional, very easy to get your head around very simple use case of physical wear. But I think the key thing with it is, it has to be information that people want to receive. And I think that one of the reasons that the beacon, specifically Physical Web had a bit of a false start was retailers trying to use the technology for unsolicited spamming, which is not a good application for the technology and one that consumers will get tired of very quickly. Instead, it should be providing genuine kind of utility and value.

    Steve Statler 26:45

    Yeah, so when this was first kind of promoted, and Scott Jensen was really the, the genius behind that and took the idea here. And I think he basically sold it to Google and Google adopted it. And then I don't know what we'll talk a bit about what we thought think happened. But in my mind, the white blood cells kind of rejected it for probably not very valid reasons. But you know, if I look at that, that original mode of operation was not pushed, this was not pushing spam messages. This was I'm in an environment, I see a physical web icon there. And I start up my browser and I start interacting with, with services and content that comes from the place the posters, the machinery that I'm near. And in wilts case, we're actually interested in a different mode of operation where you're actually interacting with things, packaging products, rather than stationary items. So that's a that's a whole other thing. And that requires a whole other discussion. But back to your apps, will there be any push element because today I have physical web browsers, I go down, I walked through Times Square, I was in Australia and the Telstra lockers that are in Melbourne started, I saw an alert saying, Oh, I'm in there, a locker that supports the Physical Web. And I've even been in Italy and seen notifications from tourist attraction. So there's there is a even though it was about the use of pulling, there was this kind of push thing, which is kind of, I think, got the whole spam issue surface. Will there be any push elements once I've installed the physical web app from you guys?

    Agustin Musi 28:42

    Again, stay with me. Sorry, let me just let me just step in on that one just briefly on it. And I think you're the answer to that question kind of exists within the problem that you framed, which is that you may not have been very interested in the lockers advertising to you that they exist, right. And every kid's toy that could possibly pass by why you're wandering around wasn't necessarily what you were interested in. So if you have, if you do have an interest in notification, it should be categorized around what you're interested in. And that is something that we care about, right? It's about creating consumer preference, or at least user preference from the from the permission to enter interrupt. So on the basis of what we're trying to do right now is a little bit different than this trajectory, medium term trajectory where we're taking a platform. So right now if you download the app, it's like a, it's a pretty basic, universal experience. It's it's elegantly designed, it's really quite in the same style as the original browser. Now, what happens when you provide a little bit more interactivity, a little bit more control about what kind of category what kind of communication you want to be notified about? And then there's a secondary part of it that which is what kind of notifications Do you want? Do you never want to see content that is advertising lockers? Unless you specifically require it? Versus Do you want to just have the ability to browse to it when you're pulling versus when you're wandering through town, and you decided that you want to be notified about, let's say, active sales by searching by vendors of some sort. And providing that granularity of permission to interrupt is essentially what most what most browsers really could not deliver before. They were looking for a universal solution to browse anything, right. And they were trying to handle it previously, as well, from a sort of centralized point of view this as well, you know, if it shows up once, maybe we want to drive how it won't show up. Again, if you've swiped it away? Well, that's still sort of a fairly weak level of control for a consumer if you're moving between locations. So most browsers, you know, let's say Chrome's notification system and exhibiting it were really engineered for a stationary user, not an interactive moving user. And so we're kind of shifting the gears on it. So in the answer the question on that base position is we want to provide notifications, but but in the frame of allowing consumers or users to to select how they want to be notified.

    Steve Statler 31:23

    Okay, so I can say, I don't want notifications, I do want notifications. And it sounds like where you're heading is having some granularity to select the kind of services content that will be able to generate notifications. How can I do that? Because I think kind of the worst offenders of the spammers were these companies that were pushing, like real estate beacons that could advertise real estate, which actually many cases, people would find very useful. Other cases, we would find it insufferable. So how do you filter out the realtor that some people want to hear from and then other people don't?

    James Grant 32:05

    And yeah, to answer that, we need to build a kind of categorization and ranking system. And Google was starting to make some strides in that, but it was never realized. But I mean, really, this is something that we would like for more members to join the Physical Web Association, and help us design what that will look like, and then help us build it. Because there shouldn't be one or two people at the top making these decisions, this should really be the beacon community as a whole. researching what works best for consumers and building that. And these are, these are very, very solvable problems. And for example, this might not be the way itself but for example, it might be that someone's preference might be that a beacon has to reach a certain threshold of views before it appears in a notification for them. removing some of the clutter, that might not be the way it's solved. That's just by means of an example. But I think very much, it's something that it's a solvable problem that needs to be designed by the community.

    Steve Statler 33:08

    Right. So there's potentially opportunities for categorization of content that could be used. And then there's this other architectural element that we haven't really talked about the there was kind of a, there was a, a service that ran in the cloud, which so it wasn't it was kind of logically it was a URL comes from the beacon. And then your phone sees it, and it presents it but actually, there was another step, it kind of went up into the, into the cloud. And is that an element that still exists in what you guys have developed?

    James Grant 33:51

    Yeah, so that's, that's called a metadata service. And it's the little bit in the middle that just validates that URL, and isn't malicious, that it's still active, and where it ultimately actually goes where that short URL ends up. And that was in Google's original specification. And we're still using a metadata service in the current version of the physical web app that we're launching. The intention is to improve upon that and expand it. I will say that we would like for this technology to be as decentralized and standalone as possible. But at the same time, the Physical Web metadata service is reliant on sitting on a server somewhere. What we've done is, I think the one we're using, forgive me, correct me if I'm wrong. Obviously, Mike might have been off Mozilla's implementation. But so we are running a metadata service in the cloud that is maintained and paid for by the Physical Web association so that it is an independent entity. But exactly how that will be developed and how it will be improved and where it will sit in the future and maybe it will be distributed. That's kind of all up for grabs.

    Steve Statler 35:01

    Okay, so like good reason for joining and being able to exercise a vote and help standing the, the operation of that service. Let's talk about how you plan to curate and encourage people to collaborate. The the old physical web code was on GitHub. And anyone could look at it. But I don't see that today with with what you guys have been doing so far. What's the plan there?

    Agustin Musi 35:34

    James, you want to pick that winner? Yeah.

    James Grant 35:36

    So we're going to stick with code up on GitHub very shortly, we just wanted to get it out the door on both iOS and Android before doing that, because we didn't want to risk a clone popping up in Google Play before we got ours out the door. Now, obviously, as an open source product still project. So it still means that people can download it and you know, do what they want with it to a certain degree. But yeah, we that's the only reason that we haven't, it is on GitHub. It's a private repo at the moment. And we'll open it up as soon as we get the Android app up on the App Store on Google Play. Sorry,

    Steve Statler 36:08

    fantastic. Well, I remember when the Physical Web was first transitioned from being the Physical Web to Eddystone URL, and we had Scott Jensen on the Mr. Beacon podcast, and he talked about it. And, you know, I did ask him offline, what, you know, why, why it was pulled? What are your guy's theories as to why it was pulled?

    Agustin Musi 36:34

    James, I'm gonna give you that.

    James Grant 36:38

    So I think Google are very good at supporting open source projects and starting open source projects that are aligned with their business goals. And I don't mean that in a malicious way, I just think that they're playing with beacons has gone in a different direction. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Google, my business and the hundreds of 1000s of beacons that they're sending out to businesses that are tied in with Google Maps. But that seems to be their primary play at the moment. So I think that they're interested in physical work probably just ran its course. I don't think it's any more. But But I will say that I think the reasons that the brightness in which they shut it down, I think was a bit unfair to, you know, only 12 months previously, they've been promoting the technology hard. And there's there was entire businesses that were built up around it. And I think that they pulled the plug with about 60 days notice, which I think is a little bit a little bit rash. And I also think that their reason, their reason for closing it, one of their primary reasons would span issues, I think, for the company that kind of fixed email spam. And with Gmail, and also with their primary product, being a search engine, which fills out spam. I think that's a little disingenuous to say that that was the problem. But

    Steve Statler 37:58

    I love the way you've said it with typical British understatement that you, I totally agree with what you've said, on all counts. So that's, that's good.

    James Grant 38:09

    But, uh, but I should say, I should add, we wouldn't have the Physical Web at all without them. So, you know, kudos for kicking it off.

    Steve Statler 38:15

    Absolutely. And, I mean, Scott did an amazing job as an evangelist of that. And Google supported it, just to kind of get into the another technical aspect of this. So what what is the if if a beacon is configured with Eddystone URL, which was kind of the way the Physical Web ended up manifesting itself? It had a Google manufacturer ID, Service ID, what? What's that going to look like, in the future? If I am creating if I'm configuring my Estimote, or contact IO, beacon, or any of the many other vendors that you can use for this? What's what's going to work in terms of the that, and this is something that end users don't have to worry about. But it's something that the makers of beacons have to kind of put that code in there. Tell us a bit about what the implications are of that and how that's going to work?

    James Grant 39:24

    Yeah, I think I think for the foreseeable future, it will stay with the exact same protocol frame type is the original specification. It's open source, and it's backwards compatible with, you know, there is a huge number of physical web compatible browsers out there, and there's no good reason to break support with them. Now, you know, potentially in a couple of years time, it might be that the association and its members feel that the protocol needs to be improved in order to add additional functionality, whether that's encryption or a greater level of decentralization. But as it stands right now, the original protocol is sufficient. So I don't think there's any good reason to change that. Okay. That's my that's my personal opinion. But again, it's very much when we say the Physical Web association is stewarding the original idea. It's not the same name, but different technology, it's very much taking the original technology and improving upon it.

    Steve Statler 40:26

    Love it. Very good. Well, I think we've covered a lot, the thing that we've missed out.

    James Grant 40:32

    Well, the only other thing I'd like to add that I just think is quite, it's not directly relevant to anything. But I think that beacons are a really interesting technology, I see them very much as kind of the successor to kind of QR codes and NFC tags. And some people sometimes talk about the relatively slow traction that the beacons are gaining, even though it is it is steady, but slow. But if you look at those technologies, comparable technologies RFID took 20 years before from its inception before there was really a widespread community consumer application using it. And I'm hoping it won't take that long with beacons. But I think that just as the sensors become cheaper and more energy efficient, and they become more prolific, more widespread the usage, I just think that I think people who wrote off beacons after a couple of years, were probably premature. Yeah, it doesn't directly feed into any of our conversation. It's just that I think it's an interesting, interesting thing to consider.

    Steve Statler 41:32

    I totally agree. And this is kind of standard operating procedure, standard progression for any technology, you have euphoria and disillusionment, and then kind of a steady build. And the question is, how quick is the steady build gonna be and, you know, from our perspective, speaking, with my Willie out hat on as opposed to kind of a more impartial view. You know, we the reason we've joined, we're not announcing anything beyond just the fact that we've joined the Physical Web Association. But, you know, we, we plan to have Bluetooth tags out there in large numbers of billions. So, clothing, packaging, for medicine, car parts, furniture, everything's gonna have a web address, so a unique identity. And so the idea of having an app for every single one of those is just inconceivable, in my mind, and so if we're going to scale, then it makes sense for, for this technology to be successful. And I think it will allow beacon adoption to scale a lot faster, because you'll go from asking for 100 grand to create a really great app to basically having something that any teenage and now with a good web creation tool can create content. And that's just kind of the, the baseline. And that's a very important part of allowing great content to be discovered in in new ways and reducing the friction and bringing the physical and the digital world together faster. And ultimately, what we're dealing with is the massive power of the cloud, and the canvas of the physical world. And so that's, you know, why I'm optimistic plus, you know, we're talking to and engage and have customers, which are some of the leaders in everything from clothing, to furniture, to telecommunications. And so we've seen this interest from very large companies in solving this problem. So I'm very optimistic. And I love the fact that you're doing this in a way that is Swiss. And building on the amazing work that Google did to kick this off, and hopefully doing it in a way that will appeal to all kinds of companies. So, you know, thank you both for coming onto the show. I think this was fascinating. I'm sure we'll touch base again, and well done. Thanks for having me. Thank you

    all the remains is to kind of do the ceremonial warm up question, which is to ask you guys about music and what three songs you would take on a trip to to Mars. So who wants to go first?

    Agustin Musi 44:36

    James James has a music theme doesn't mean Oh, you're

    James Grant 44:39

    sure about that. But I'll go first. Okay, so I did give it some thought. Right. So first of all, 2112 by rush because it's a meant value for money to 20 minutes, so

    Steve Statler 44:53

    I like that strategy. Other people have adopted that in the past and I think it's very, very smart. Yeah. Yeah.

    James Grant 45:01

    So that was my first one. My second choice. Was she so heavy by the Beatles because it's I love butchering it and karaoke. Singing space.

    Steve Statler 45:13

    Okay, so you'll be singing along to that.

    James Grant 45:16

    Oh, definitely. Okay. And then my third one you've probably heard before, but it's some go by public service broadcast.

    Steve Statler 45:23

    I don't know why fantastic. So

    James Grant 45:27

    it's it's kind of electronic music, but they kind of it's cut with loads of real audio clips from from NASA. It's very space themed. Good song.

    Steve Statler 45:38

    That's brilliant. I'm gonna listen to that I don't think I ever have. So Augustine, what about you?

    Agustin Musi 45:45

    So I'm, I'm a bit of a 70s. Guy. So that means anything in that category. That's let's not put a Pink Floyd's space in that era. If I have to pick specific songs, I go for landslide, which is a Fleetwood Mac song. So that's kind of my era.

    Steve Statler 46:09

    So how old are you? If you don't mind me asking you.

    Agustin Musi 46:13

    I should be 47 or 48. Somewhere in that space.

    Steve Statler 46:18

    That's funny, because I'm the same age and I couldn't remember if I was 46. So actually, we won't go into how old I am. Let's. Let's forget that. I saw a Fleetwood Mac at the Hollywood Bowl. I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl and they were just absolutely awesome. My only regret was that I wasn't close. But okay, so Fleetwood Mac.

    Agustin Musi 46:42

    Yeah, anything led to that point, which would be like album for hazing and Pink Floyd dark post. Okay, so I would be one of these guys who will try to sneak not just one song, you know, I think the whole damn album cuz that stuff you can listen to for if you're gonna have to listen to like 20,000 times. It's okay. That's basically how many times I've listened to it already. So why not go for more? All right. Well, so that's

    Steve Statler 47:06

    good. Good. Well, I applaud you both for your choices. Thank you very much for indulging us in that