HP has launched a new social networking service that hopes to overlay digital sight, sound and interactions with GPS-enabled devices at its Making Connections event in Shanghai. So does it work? We had a wander around Shanghai with the new software.

Called mscape, the new software uses GPS-enabled devices to help trigger text, images, sounds, audio and video in response to physical events such as location, proximity, time and movement.

It's kinda like the idea that Gizmondo had with gaming based on mobile networking and locations before it failed against the PSP and the Nintnedo DS.

HP's vision for the software is location-based gaming, but today, the free software will allow you to put music, pictures and video to GPS locations and not much more.

We tested the software on the company's Travel Companion, although you can run it on any Windows Mobile device alongside a GPS receiver, in Shanghai's People Square, following a route, which HP had already planned out for us. Once we had got a GPS signal we have to say, that as a concept, we like it quite a lot.

In practice it's very much like having one of those Jack the Ripper or Dickens tour guides in London with you on a GPS unit and we can easily see this catching on with companies like Rough Guides offering walking tours mapped out by GPS in your favourite city.

The company hope that the service will encourage user to tell stories and "allow them to experience their surroundings" and we can easily see in the social networking society we are fast becoming, this happening. Imagine if you know the best bits of the city and you want to share that with them but can’t be there in person. This will let you do it.


In our brief play it was clear that the mscape software is still at the early stage, however as a concept we can see big things for it, either as city guides or location based gaming.

Who knows in 5 years time you might find that some cities looking to drive tourism will hold special virtual events that require you to visit their town to play a certain level.

For now, and HP clearly realise this with the free offering, it's something to have a play with rather than the latest cutting edge technology.

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