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Bluetooth Beaming Billboards

August 26, 2005

A friend of mine recently directed a New Scientist article to me. The content of the article, published earlier this week, is pretty interesting, to say nothing of potentially, intrusively annoying as hell.

 

There has, of late, been a technology development wherein billboards and advertising posters use Bluetooth to beam multimedia ads directly to passing cell phones.

 

It goes like this, and I’m paraphrasing from the article (link to full story): As people walk past the posters, they receive a message on their cell phone asking them if they wish to accept the advertisement; if they do, they can receive still images, animations, music or even movies further promoting the advertised product:

 

The system works by having a large directional Bluetooth transmitter behind the billboard that searches the region up to 100 meters in front of the advert for any phones with their Bluetooth function turned on.

 

This way you can make sure that only people who can see the billboard are offered the additional promotion, says Simon O’Regan, Filter UK’s Technical Officer. “It’s inherently proximity-based broadcasting,” he says.

 

Furthermore, there is no risk of downloading viruses or other malware to the phone, says O’Regan: “We don’t send applications or executable code.” The system uses the phone’s native download interface so they should be able to see the kind of file they are downloading before accepting it, he adds.

 

Elsewhere, other software companies have been experimenting with making posters interactive by having 3-D barcodes printed on them.

 

With BlueCasting, downloading is quick, and more important, free, because it uses the Bluetooth connection and not the cell phone network.

 

If you are one of those people who find this sort of thing invasive and annoying as hell (I’m not alone, am I? Unless they’re beaming the soon-to-be-released Fiona Apple album — it’s been six years since her last), there is a simple solution: Simply make sure your Bluetooth device is set so that it’s not discoverable by other devices.

 

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DRB



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