It seems that a lot of people have been talking about putting things in the road lately. Just within the past few years, we’ve heard about asphalt-embedded parking spot locators, power strips and coils, piezoelectric generators, and heat-harvesting water pipes. Now, a Spanish tech company has developed yet another piece of “street technology,” known as iPavement – sidewalk paving stones that double as WiFi hotspots.

Each stone measures 40 x 40 x 7 centimeters (15.75 x 15.75 x 2.76 in), weighs approximately 24 kilograms (53 lbs), and contains a 5 GB microprocessor that communicates with nearby mobile devices via WiFi and Bluetooth. Power and internet access are supplied to each stone via a hard-wired 1,000-watt cable. In order to ensure continued coverage over a given area, it is recommended that individual stones be installed no more than 20 meters (66 feet) from one another.

iPavement being installed in Spain

Along with providing internet usage to passers-by, however, iPavement also comes with a number of cloud-based apps for them to use while they’re in the area. These include a digital library; maps that promote local restaurants, shops and other attractions; a music service; a coupon catalogue featuring local businesses; a service that provides alerts on hazards and obstructions in the nearby streets; and a Bluetooth service that sends promotional messages to devices. An app is also available that provides statistics on local foot traffic, if the special footstep-registering stones are used.

The apps are available in a number of languages, and the system works with most of the common browsers. One of iPavement’s limitations, however, is its operating temperature range – it will only work between -10 and 45 ºC (14 - 113ºF). That’s fine for the Mediterranean climate of Spain, but could present a challenge for many other parts of the world.

Source: iPavement via Technabob