A Spanish company called Vía Inteligente has created a unique smart paving stone with a built-in computer as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. They're designed as an easy way to provide wireless access to various services without the need for a hotspot or an ugly antenna, but it also has the potential to easily create an expansive wireless network in urban areas.
The unfortunately named iPavement stones can be installed in high-traffic areas since they're as durable as regular concrete blocks. They can even be driven over without affecting their functionality. But instead of working together as a way to create a wireless network covering a large city, the blocks are enhanced with various apps letting them serve as sort of multi-service hotspot for anyone in range.
So, for example, when running the Via Book app, passersby could download books or other publications to a mobile device when connected. The Via Coupons app could provide ways to save money on surrounding shops or restaurants, while the more serious MS-Alert app could broadcast notifications about traffic, dangerous conditions on a road, or even emergency updates.
We kind of like the idea as a way to hide wireless hardware, particularly when installed in tourist-heavy locations where the idea will probably initially be most popular. But if the company manages to further develop the system as a way to easily increase the range of a Wi-Fi network in a city, or even down a highway, we can see these catching on rather quickly. [iPavement via SlashGear]