Desperate for a pint but lost in a strange city? Business travellers and tourists will soon find it easy to find a nearby bar with the launch of a new Web service.
Bartrek, a Web enabled service from brewers Heineken, will allow travelling drinkers to be led direct to the front door of bars across the world via directions downloaded to their handheld PC or personal digital assistant (PDA).
The site, constructed by IBM's pervasive computing division, uses mobile global positioning systems (GPS) to direct drinkers to a selection of bars in 15 cities worldwide which serve Heineken, Amstel and Murphy's beer.
Bars are marked on digital city maps that can be downloaded to a PDA. A user's location will be shown on the map as well as the position of the bar they are heading for.
Heineken said the site, as well as being a fun application, is also a global experiment in "technologically enabled social life." Frazer Thompson, Heineken's international marketing manager, commented: "We are excited about the new developments that handheld communications technology offers, but we believe technology should add value to real social life, not serve as a substitute or replacement," he said.
Bartrek will also feature online Heineken events, city information and feedback from other Bartrek users. The service will initially be available for Palm Pilot users, with a colour version for Windows CE to be released next month.
The big question is whether the service will be able to help drinkers find their way home.
Users can access Bartrek at http://www.heineken.com
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