The software only runs on phones with Windows Mobile 5.0 (or later versions) and is limited to the resolution of the GPS sensor, notes Stenton. Right now, he says, he finds that many of the gadgets available operate consistently within about a 10-meter radius. So, he says, a person must keep this limitation in mind when developing her mscape application.
HP is making an important contribution to this field of research, says Cliff Randall, professor of computer science at the University of Bristol, who is familiar with mscapes and the researchers but unaffiliated with their project. “They demonstrate real progress towards the visions of the early pioneers in the field,” he says. “The progress may be slow, but the ability of the general public to be able to readily associate digital media with particular locations is a real milestone.”
Some researchers are not completely impressed with the initial offering, however. Blair MacIntyre, professor of computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has developed similar software for local tours, and he says that the HP work is not giving a truly immersive augmented-reality feel. But, he adds, mscapes “will be useful to folks who want to do this sort of thing, especially those who aren’t programmers.” MacIntyre says that there aren’t a lot of ways for average people to create these sensor-based applications, especially on mobile devices, and HP is filling that need.
Stenton admits that there are some limitations to the integration of sensor data and mscapes. So far, the downloads and tool kits only work with GPS sensors. But he says that future versions could include software that can use Bluetooth wireless, infrared sensor data, information from in-phone accelerometers, and maybe even heart-rate monitors. He fully expects that future generations of mscapes will allow, for example, people to turn their exercise routines into games and share them with friends, forming the basis for new collaborative workouts and competitions.