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Sunday, 13 October, 2002, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
New billboards the 'talk' of advertisers
Billboard poster
Adverts like this could soon talk to passers-by
High street billboards could soon start talking to consumers and people walking past as advertisers look to harness new technology.

Poster adverts could be made to speak, play music or produce sound effects when a potential customer is within range.

The technology was developed by Scottish industrial design consultancy Harris Hynd Ltd.

An infra-red sensor clipped to the back of the ad site detects the presence of people and activates a recorded audio message about the product.


Where before you might have had a picture of a drink being poured into a glass, now you can hear the drink being poured

Norman Harris

The technology means a high tech transducer turns the whole surface of the billboard or poster advert into a loudspeaker.

The system works on cardboard, foam or glass, and is said to produce CD-quality sound.

Norman Harris, director of the Fife-based design firm, said: "Where before you might have had a picture of a drink being poured into a glass, now you can hear the drink being poured. Or you might hear a voice talking to you."

He said the main use being considered at the moment was to attract the attention of visitors to exhibitions.

However, he said there was no reason why the system could not be used in the high street - talking cut out display figures outside shops was one idea.

Mr Harris said: "There's a huge number of applications. Of course you'd have to think about the problem of noise pollution, but you could time it so as not to cause too much of a nuisance. That's something we're very aware of."

'Show stopper'

He said when he demonstrated the system to someone from Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre "his jaw dropped".

The National Trust is also said to have expressed an interest.

A report in The Engineer magazine said that because the system contains no speaker grills it is not vulnerable to weather damage when used outdoors.

Alan James, chief executive of the Outdoor Advertising Association, said the device would have to be prevented from disturbing residents.

"It would have to be of sufficient volume to be heard, but you cannot have it going off at 4am. It would all depend on the delivery of the scheme, but it could be a show stopper."

See also:

09 Oct 02 | UK
21 Aug 02 | UK
17 Aug 02 | Technology
15 Oct 99 | UK
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