Out Of Home Takes Intrusive Turn As Plans For A “Spying” Billboard Revealed

Out Of Home Takes Intrusive Turn As Plans For A “Spying” Billboard Revealed

Tech giant Yahoo is attempting to patent a camera-equipped billboard that can spy into cars as they pass-by and even listen in on conversations inside the vehicle.

Industry tech site Siliconbeat.com has uncovered the plan as the company seeks to have the technology patented in the US. According to the article the billboard comes with “sensors including cameras, microphones and even retina scanners built in or positioned nearby”.

The patent documents say the billboard will be able to tell how many eyeballs viewed the advertising while cameras could view in-car conversations and, through speech recognition techniques, be able to understand what was being said about the campaign.

Patent documents said of the technology: “Image data or motion/proximity sensor data may be processed to determine whether any members of the audience paused or slowed down near the advertising content, from which it may be inferred that the pause or slowing was in response to the advertising content.”

The technology is the next step away from traditional static out of home and more bespoke, targeted advertising. (For a comprehensive look at the future of outdoor advertising, check out the next edition of B&T due on desks next week).

It’s believed the technology could identify individuals via data from their mobiles or other tech such as on-board navigation devices and even determine a driver’s financial status based on the model of car being driven.

In the patent documents, Yahoo argue it’s not about spying on passers-by, rather determining real-time audiences and then sell appropriate ad space programatically. In Yahoo’s defence, the idea is not new with many of the out of home players admitting that this sort of technology is OOH’s Holy Grail.


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