At its most simplest, the Physical Web is a list of URLs broadcast from nearby BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacons. Get into the range of a beacon, expand the notifications and voila, the URLs being broadcasted by the BLE beacons in the vicinity are available. The big difference between between the Physical Web and the earlier proximity marketing approaches using beacons is the fact that it is a “Pull Based” technology. No annoying notifications or interruptions. The notification from Physical Web is more nuanced and will be available for a period under the notifications panel, when you want it.
The movement is from “In-App Notifications” or “Alerts” to “Content on Demand”.
Also, if you are worried if this system will generate too many notifications if there are beacons around, then look at this from @ThePhysicalWeb
Why is it important?
Consumers and systems are moving towards a more simpler way of requesting and providing content and performing transactions. Apps were the first wave towards achieving this with the smartphone. The second wave is moving from a App-based to a Web-based method to simplify actions without having to type. This movement from app to direct interaction is accomplished by the “Physical Web”.
“Physical Web” is an open standard, built on top of the web. The project was initiated by Google and the source code is available at Github. The integration into Google Chrome is giving the project a significant boost.
In the future anyone from a small shop to a large retailer can offer the experience of a “Physical Web” without incurring significant costs or running an IT machinery. All it would take for a simple set-up is a beacon and an accompanying web page.