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iPavement Connects People with Cities

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Urban areas have become awash with technology in recent times. 3G signal, allowing anyone with a smartphone to access the internet at virtually any time, is abundant in most developed cities, including the Spanish capital of Madrid. QR codes are plastered everywhere, giving people fast access to websites or contact details. Now, innovators in Spain have taken urban technology to a new level.

iPavement aims to make cities more intelligent, through making the ground you walk on connect with you. Two types of intelligent paving stones have been developed, both with Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity, and an array of built in apps.

The aim is to bring services closer to citizens, while favouring tourism. This can be done by beaming maps, and public transport routes to passers by; tourist information can be made even more accessible and precise. Furthermore, promotional messages can be sent to people passing outside restaurants or shops; coupons and discounts can be given out to entice people in.

The possibilities are endless, and could even enhance existing services and social networks. For example, location sharing service, Foursquare, relies on GPS to pinpoint a users location. Now, with iPavement, this location information can be far more precise than GPS itself; each stone is 40cm x 40cm which allows for extremely accurate positioning.

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The company behind iPavement, Inteligente inc, also have long term aims of increasing economic development in urban areas. They have plans to use foot-sensitive paving stones for data collection, taking note of pedestrian traffic, and even changing the functionality of these stones to suit the results. For example, if an area is seen to have excessively high pedestrian traffic, the pavement could suggest businesses, shops and restaurants in less busy areas, as opposed to in the city centre.

So far, iPavement has been installed only as an experiment in Puerta del Sol, a prominent square in the centre of Madrid. It took 18 hours for the area to be repaved, in an attempt to make Madrid the first European city to take these ambitious steps in innovation and communication.

There was once a time where we'd be laughed at if we said that, in the future, we'd be asking a pavement for directions, but times change, and this is a notable leap forward in integrating people with the infrastructures which surround them.

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