A project to research and create mobile technology applications across Bristol has spun off its first commercial firm and created a number of recreational trials.
The Mobile Bristol scheme received £1.6m in funding from the Department of Trade and Industry's City & Building Research Centre and similar private investment from Hewlett Packard and Appliance Studio.
It has now established Node Explore, a service that provides location-based multimedia content to tourism firms.
Bristol Ferry Boat Company is trialling the technology and working with Node Explore and HP Labs to provide tourists with a multimedia tour around Bristol Harbour.
The Harbour Trials scheme uses an onboard global positioning system (GPS) attached to a server, which distributes information via an 802.11b wireless network to iPaqs being used by tourists.
Location-based technology triggers multimedia information for the tourist relevant to the boat's position in the harbour.
As a result of the trials Node Explore is now working with Bristol City Council to develop additional tourist services in Ashton Court Estate on the city outskirts.
"We want to develop novel technology solutions that fit into the busy and mobile lifestyles of consumers, as well as commercial opportunities," said Phil Stenton, manager of HP's technology and lifestyle integration department, which founded Mobile Bristol.
The Mobile Bristol project will also create a publicly accessible wireless infrastructure covering the city centre and a variety of new business opportunities using technologies from trials, said Stenton.
A project involving the BBC's Natural History Unit, HP technology and learning skills from NESTA Futurelab is also helping children from six Bristol schools to learn about the ecology and ethology of African plains.
Savannah, a strategy-based educational adventure game using iPaqs wirelessly linked to GPS, allows children to become 'virtual lions'.
A virtual savannah landscape, predators and prey are mapped on to a school playing field using a gaming engine, so that children can experience how lions survive and work as a pride.
"Through children exploring, moving around and interacting they can learn much more than by just sitting at a PC screen," said Josephine Reid, senior researcher and project manager at HP Labs.
Other trials include a GPS-based recreation of the 1831 Bristol riots, as well as pub-based games and digital mobile jukeboxes.
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