Thursday, September 14, 2006

UK university testing BluScreen bluetooth-enabled digital signage

The New Scientist (admittedly not one of the publications I usually turn to for digital signage news and information) is carrying this interesting story on an experiment being run at the school of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton University in the UK. Much like a regular digital sign, screens set up in the building can display different types of multimedia content and combine pre-stored and live information to create a dynamic and engaging presentation. However, the real fun happens when people whip out their Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones:

The display detects the presence of devices fitted with Bluetooth wireless transmitters carried by people walking past, such as cellphones and PDAs. Software agents then "bid" against one another to determine which adverts are then shown to those viewers....

If more than one person is standing in front of the screen, however, the system must try to choose material seen by as few of the current audience as possible.

It does so using software "agents" to represent different adverts. These agents have a fixed advertising budget and bid against each other depending on the number of new exposures their advert is likely to get. Greater exposure results in higher bids and the agent that bids the highest wins.

That's certainly an interesting way to get viewers more invested in the screen and its content. Nike and R/GA have previously tried a similar concept on a bigger scale (literally, using the JumboTron in Times Square), and had very encouraging results, so I wouldn't be surprised to see this sort of technology make its way into more traditional digital signage applications in the future.

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