Crazy cyberpunk billboard can sense viewers, target them with specific ads

london billboard recognizes users dsc 3733 final
When you’re paying top dollar to rent a billboard in one of the biggest cities in the world, you want to know that it’s got the maximum chance of reaching the right eyeballs. With that in mind, Landsec, the U.K.’s biggest listed commercial property company, has just given a futuristic upgrade to its digital advertising space in Piccadilly Circus, one of London’s most famous tourist attractions.

The famous screens have been switched off for much of this year, due to renovation work. During that time, the company has replaced six separate screens which previously occupied the site with one massive 790-square-meter display, offering a resolution that’s better than 4K, and the largest of its kind in Europe.

Amazingly, that’s not the most impressive part, however. In a move straight out of the great 2002 movie Minority Report — in which the central character receives customized ads as he walks through a public space — the billboard will now reflect what’s going on around it. Obviously, personalized ads focused on a single individual won’t work when you’re dealing with a giant billboard in a massive public space, but that has not stopped Landsec from trying.

Cameras hidden in the screen will now be able to track the manufacturer, model, and color of passing cars to trigger targeted ads. That means that companies who rent the billboard will be able to have it identify which vehicles are around and only play ads in response to certain ones. It can also screen ads in response to certain types of weather, or allow users to interact with the screens in real time.

Ultimately, we’ll have to wait until the screen goes live to see what advertisers decide to do with this technology. But it’s definitely an intriguing illustration of the direction giant billboard advertising is going to follow in the coming years, as it races to keep up with the kind of targeted ads users are used to receiving online.

The only question that’s left to answer is whether people who are targeted for custom ads will be flattered or creeped out. We guess a lot will depend on the car you’re driving at the time!

Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.