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.
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.