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Yesterday, I stumbled across a press release from a German company called NOUSguide announcing its new deal with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. NOUSguide develops interactive museum guides that can be viewed on iPhones and other devices, and that can be distributed on-site at museums via Wi-Fi, or globally via the iPhone App Store.

I don’t usually pay too much attention to specialized products like this, but this is noteworthy because it flips the whole concept of guidebooks on mobile devices on its head. Think about it: all the buzz on mobile devices for the last ten years has been on coupling them with GPS capabilities to make it easy to figure out where to go. The classic example is an online yellow pages that helps you select a nearby restaurant and then directs you there. What NOUSguide does is exactly the reverse. Instead of telling you how to get somewhere, it tells you about where you are.

I immediately thought about city visitor guides. Imagine an online application of the city guide that was centered on telling you about what’s around you at any given moment. It’s surely more interesting, useful and valuable than the traditional endless lists of everything you can do in a ten mile radius. With a good database behind it, an online guide such as this could even be programmed to beep or send alerts when the user was in range of a certain type of museum, store or restaurant. There would be endless potential ways to add even more value to such an application. If such guides currently exist, I am not aware of them, but it’s clear we’ve only begun to explore the explosive possibilities when you marry mobile devices database and geolocation capabilities. You can look forward to learning more about taking data mobile at InfoCommerce Group’s annual conference, Data Content09, October 27-29, The Ritz Carlton Philadelphia.

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