In the future, navigating the urban environment can be a seamless experience where a user traverses both information space and physical space smoothly. This will force a re-thinking of the notion of space in general as people find new connections between physical and virtual locations. Urban physical maps, location-based services and context awareness will transform people’s experience within the urban environment. Proximity technologies, RFID, Near Field Communication, and wireless sensors networks will modify the way users access and share customized, contextualized, content.

The MIT Mobile Experience Lab has collaborated with RATP, the French Transportation Authority, since 2005 to study how information and communication technologies affect the public transportation system. Building on a new understanding the ecosystemic relationship between the mobility system and the city, this partnership is now exploring new forms of urban mobility and the role communication technologies and new media in urban transportation.

Ubiquitous computing and the evolution of telecommunication system, such as WiMax and long range broadband wireless connectivity, open new scenarios for accessing information. These trends are set to alter the traditional notion of place. Embedded sensing and electronics will transform the urban fabric into smart self-organized places. IPv6 enables “Internet everywhere”, an “Internet of things” where any object can access (and be accessed through) the Internet, enabling endless scenarios for new experiences within the city, at all levels.

Applications such as Google Maps, Google Street View, and Nike Plus have already significantly blurred the lines between the physical and the virtual. This trend will undoubtedly have an impact on urban mobility. The Mobile Experience Lab/RATP partnership will explore these and other opportunities through a series of design workshops.