<body> Public Ad Campaign: Invention: Billboards that know you at a touch
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Monday, October 13, 2008

Invention: Billboards that know you at a touch

This was sent to me by a good friend and is a dark and grim future for us all.

NewScientist.com news service

Justin Mullins

Adverts could be more personal if they can download your personal information when you touch them. Pocket gadgets hold ever more information, but are still mostly unconnected islands of data. One of the most promising ways to change that is to link up a person's devices by using the human body as a conduit. The same approach would make it easier to share data like business cards or photos with other people. Options for such body area networks include skin-clinging radio waves, or tiny vibrations through the skeleton that let people swap data with a handshake. The IEEE – the US body that defines the local area wireless networking protocol – is already working on a standard for body area networks.

Now the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute in Daejon, South Korea, wants to use these new methods of sharing data to revolutionise public advertising. Billboards and electronic advertising displays are inherently inefficient because the bulk of the people who catch sight of them have no interest in the product being promoted. The Korean patent gets around this problem by suggesting that people using a body area network could touch an electronic poster to tune it to their interests. The display would download details about that person's interests and recent activities, and display a relevant advert. Downloads like detailed product brochures could also be offered. Whether people would want to interact with ads in this way is another matter. To address this, the patent suggests goodies could be offered too – for example special-offer coupons, or even music and films. Billboards in places where people wait for buses or trains would be ideal spots to get people interacting, suggest the team.

Read the full body area adverts patent application.

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