Interactive Digital Billboards Controlled By Phones

Toshiba is testing interactive digital billboards controlled by mobile phones. This is an interesting inversion of the Minority Report-style ads that capture biometric information about you whether you like it or not.

Toshiba set up an interactive digital billboard in Tokyo last weekend that allowed YouTube users and passersby with mobile phones to play video games on a larger screen than usual. Take a look at the video below to see how it looked.


(Toshiba interactive digital billboard video)

This experiment is a variation on the personalized graphic advertisements portrayed in the 2002 movie Minority Report. In the film, people are assaulted with intrusive advertisements that are personalized based on biometric information taken without their consent using covert sampling methods.

This model has been widely adopted in experimental ad trials; see NTT Billboards Are Watching You Look and Smart Sign Watches You Drive By for examples.

This Toshiba experimental interactive digital billboard sets up a new paradigm; why not directly engage the user in an experience that they enjoy? This seems like a natural way to advertise games.

I was also thinking of the joymaker, the universal phone/PDA combo proposed by Frederik Pohl in his 1965 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot. The joyrider did not have a screen; whenever it needed to present large quantities of text or other information, it could easily take over nearby screens on behalf of the user. This might be a handy service that could be offered to consumers on small billboards in places like airports, with a branded logo or other message to let the consumer know who paid for the time on the billboard.

Thanks to Pink Tentacle.

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