As soon as Mrs. Dupont enters the shopping mall, her sleek UMTS-enabled PDA provides her with a menu of services available within the precinct, discreetly introduced by a subdued welcome jingle. This service is a virtual kiosk, automatically detecting Mrs. Dupont's location and uploading to her PDA an interface that she may use to i-augment this familiar bricks and mortar environment.
She enters one of the stores in the mall (a bookstore), and the same kiosk service operates here on a smaller scale, providing her with a menu of regularly listed items, as well as sales and special offerings for this particular store. She doesn't actually browse the menu (she is not so adroit at pointing on the tiny screen, and hates talking to the thing in public, lest onlookers think she is getting senile): she prefers to fiddle with the books on display, letting herself be enticed by their covers, bindings and photo spreads . She removes one of them from the shelf, and, as the book is equipped with an e-tag that the shelf can locate and identify, the menu for this book is automatically downloaded to her PDA: she is advised that a DVD is available for a movie version of this book; she expresses her interest in this item by getting inside a cosy lounge adjacent to the store, where her presence and her holding of the book is again detected : a video trailer for the movie is downloaded to the huge plasma screen, while she can enjoy the crisp 96kHz 6-channel sound, eerily surrounding her. She could have downloaded the stuff to her PDA, which obviously is no match for this state-of-the-art media centre . She is convinced, and orders the DVD for download to her home: she does not care for the ungainly case in which these disks are usually packaged, and will dispense with the material support of the DVD altogether, as a copy-protected version will be available on the hard disk of her home server. The book is something else, and back home, lying on the couch , she will browse it leisurely. The beautiful, nicely bound and soft-smelling piece of glossy paper will also act as a physical icon for the movie, a material placeholder for the virtual DVD, which she will summon by waving the book close to the player (it is also fitted with a reader to detect the book's tag).
Mrs. Dupont never got used to exclusively web-based shopping: she enjoys the rich displays and the atmosphere of stores, she needs to feel, touch, manipulate and retrieve immediately the items she buys, and with this service she gets the best of both worlds . Comparison-shopping is a cinch, just as with web-based shopping (being a thrifty homemaker, she usually requests a price quote from the competition by physically selecting an item, waving her PDA close to it, before buying it in a store.