Real-world search on GPS cellphones: "digital divining rods"

Snip from a NYT article by John Markoff and Martin Fackler about a new location-based search service for cellphone users in Japan:
If you stand on a street corner in Tokyo today you can point a specialized cellphone at a hotel, a restaurant or a historical monument, and with the press of a button the phone will display information from the Internet describing the object you are looking at. The new service is made possible by the efforts of three Japanese companies and GeoVector, a small American technology firm, and it represents a missing link between cyberspace and the physical world.

The phones combine satellite-based navigation, precise to within 30 feet or less, with an electronic compass to provide a new dimension of orientation. Connect the device to the Internet and it is possible to overlay the point-and-click simplicity of a computer screen on top of the real world.

The technology is being seen first in Japan because emergency regulations there require cellphones by next year to have receivers using the satellite-based Global Positioning System to establish their location.

Link to article. image: Ko Sasaki for The New York Times.