London: Researchers, including those from India, have used ‘Internet of Things’ technology to connect shops at Mumbai’s Dharavi – one of the largest slums in the world – in order to give buyers an enhanced shopping experience and help them make an informed choice.
The project – part of Google’s Internet of Things Technology Research Award – connects 30 shops in Dharavi’s markets to a ‘physical web’ through 100 devices called beacons.
When customers using smartphones are in the proximity of any such beacon-enabled shop, they get a notification via bluetooth.
They can then browse through the products available at the shops using an interactive interface. This enables the customer to get an overview of the products that all the shops in Dharavi have and hence make an informed choice.
According to the researchers from Swansea University in the UK and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, this enhanced shopping experience hopes to not only boost the customer-seller relation but also attract more buyers to the markets of Dharavi.
“In the greater scheme of things, this will bring a change in the way Dharavi is perceived,” researchers said.
Dharavi, once considered a slum with narrow lanes, has now blossomed in to a self-sustained informal economy. Industries that work in the domain include leather, garment, recycling and pottery.
Internet of Things is an emerging technology in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data and interact with each other.
“Most new technologies, at inception, are exclusive and cater to only those who can afford the technology,” said Chinmay Parab, a student at IIT Bombay.
“This technology of ‘Internet of Things’ will provide the population in the resource-constrained environment of Dharavi an exposure to vast possibilities,” said Parab.
“Shops which are part of the deployment are given a poster that asks people to turn on bluetooth to experience the physical web,” Parab said.
The Google IoT Research Award gives students access to 100 beacon devices designed to allow any smart device to interact with real-world objects – in this case, shops in Dharavi – without having to download specific applications.