Airlines, tour operators, entrepreneurs and even old-fashioned travel book publishers have been unleashing a wave of information accessible with MP3 players and mobile phones that is easier to tote while on vacation and is delivering increasingly personal recommendations.

A visitor to Venice, Italy, can escape the crushing throngs in overpriced St. Mark's Square, for example, with an audio and video off-the-beaten-path walking tour guided by locals and delivered over location-aware multimedia phones and PDAs.

The History Unwired project uses Bluetooth sensors and global positioning hotspots in the popular Venetian quarter of Castello to transmit anecdotes and personal recommendations from a local baker and fisherman.

"Because it knows where you are, it can encourage you to see things and meet people you wouldn't normally see or meet," said Michael Epstein, a researcher at MIT who helped develop the project and is creating a similar system for New Orleans.

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