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Finding Yourself in Japan

Hey, if any of y'all are going to be in Kobe after April, find out if it's true that the city is running a pilot project to embed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips in public places, to be read by anybody's PDA. According to RFID in Japan (which says the story comes from an article, in Japanese, on CNET Japan). Apparently it's called the Kobe Autonomous Movement Support Project, and according to the PowerPointy slides in this PDF, the city tested it late last year.

The only part of the CNET Japan story I can read - my Japanese has rusted to dust - confirms that the technology comes from something called "YRP Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory," which seems to push ubiquitous computing applications.

The idea in Kobe - again, if any of this is true - would be that buildings, signs, sidewalks, or whatever would get RFID chips, and putting your PDA or cell phone near one would give you information. What kind? Dunno. Where you are, what's nearby, touristy stuff. My old urban planning professor once said that every city has a narrative, and the most successful destinations are those that expand visibly upon that narrative. He was talking about all the Freedom Trail-like stuff around Boston, but I guess implanting data in all your buildings (and having a cell phone-obsessed population) could work, too.

Via We Make Money, Not Art.

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