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New audio technology brings internet pop-ups to the real world

Just when you thought advertising couldn’t get any more intrusive:

New Yorker Alison Wilson was walking down Prince Street in SoHo last week when she heard a woman’s voice right in her ear asking, “Who’s there? Who’s there?” She looked around to find no one in her immediate surroundings. Then the voice said, “It’s not your imagination.”

Indeed it isn’t. It’s an ad for “Paranormal State,” a ghost-themed series premiering on A&E this week. The billboard uses technology manufactured by Holosonic that transmits an “audio spotlight” from a rooftop speaker so that the sound is contained within your cranium.

Holosonic boss Joe Pompei doesn’t see any problem with the idea.

“There’s going to be a certain population sensitive to it. But once people see what it does and hear for themselves, they’ll see it’s effective for getting attention,” Mr. Pompei said.

The assumption, of course, is that letting advertisers GET INSIDE OUR BLOODY HEADS WHENEVER THEY BLOODY WELL FEEL LIKE IT BECAUSE THEIR STUPID BLOODY CAMPAIGN IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR THOUGHTS is something we should embrace.

It’s mental mugging – and it’s not going to be great for people with genuine mental problems either, is it?

[AdAge, via MetaFilter]

[Have I blogged about this before, or are the voices telling me that I have?]

8 replies on “New audio technology brings internet pop-ups to the real world”

>>[Have I blogged about this before, or are the voices telling me that I have?]

Can’t remember but I do remember having a conversation about it with you. It was around the time of Minority Report when they first talked about the technology. They were also talking about using it in cinemas as a form of surround sound. It’s all about interference patterns or something, if I remember.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was sued out of existence in a while. On a similar note – did I read something the other day that said that the law was changing (UK) to make unsolicited bluetooth advertising illegal now too?

Where the technology will really come into its own is listening to music without headphones and without disturbing people.

> “There’s going to be a certain population sensitive to it. But once people see what it does and hear for themselves, they’ll see it’s effective for getting attention,” Mr. Pompei said.

That’s really weird. He honestly doesn’t seem to understand that people might see that it’s a really effective way of getting their attention yet still — or, more precisely, and therefore — dislike it. Twonk.

>>He honestly doesn’t seem to understand that people might see that it’s a really effective way of getting their attention yet still — or, more precisely, and therefore — dislike it.

He probably thinks that a tramp grabbing you by the shoulders and yelling incomprehensibly into your face is effective at getting your attention too. Nowt wrong with that.

His flashlight comment was good, albeit unintentionally so. It’s like a flashlight compared to a light bulb. Yeah, ’cause someone shining a flashlight in your eyes is so welcome and relaxing!

It really pisses me off. I accept that advertising is necessary for some things – it pays the hosting bills here, it keeps magazines and TV stations in business, etc – but we’re *saturated* with the bloody stuff. And because we’re so saturated, advertisers have to shout louder to get their message heard. Which is why you get those god-awful LED cylinders on city streets (which give me a headache – they’re unreadable), massive compression on adverts to make them sound louder than everybody else’s ads, invasive audio ads on cerebral websites, fly posting, pop-ups, comment spam, thinly disguised advertorials and now, it seems, sound cannons. It’s as if everything comes second to businesses’ fundamental “right” to promote their business. What about us? What about our right to mind our own business, free from interruption?

To take just one example: a few years back, I went on holiday. As we taxied, the speakers burst into (far too loud) life for the safety stuff. Fair enough. Then they got louder, and extolled the virtues of the various things you could buy on the plane. Then, the carefully selected partners – car hire, hotels, whatever – at painful volumes. Finally it stopped and the in-flight movie started. Which was then interrupted after half an hour for more selling – selling that happened via the loudspeakers, not just the movie channel. Etc etc etc. Fair enough if I’d got the flight for free or 1p or some similarly derisory sum, but I didn’t – I paid full whack for it. As if flying wasn’t soul-sapping enough, we’re now a captive audience for ads.

I sometimes wonder if the whole current security thing isn’t simply to stop passengers skewering the cabin crew with screwdrivers or developing interesting explosives to disable the on-board speakers.

He probably thinks that a tramp grabbing you by the shoulders…

A few years ago I was in LA for a work thing, and in a bit of downtime I went for a walk. A beggar asked me for money; I said – truthfully – that I didn’t have any. He chased me for a bit, shouting and bawling, before accosting someone else. They didn’t have any money either, so he chased them a bit. I didn’t realise I was watching the future of marketing.

Where the technology will really come into its own is listening to music without headphones and without disturbing people.

Apparently it’s been used in museums and other touristy things. Cool, bring it on. That’s great. It’s when it’s used as an assault weapon that it becomes evil.

It’s almost worth buying one of these devices and firing it into the offices of these muppets and shouting obscenities at them all day. While they’re having a poo.

(Muppet is my anti-spam word!)

The technology is interesting but if they start using it for advertising then I’m just going to start boycotting everything that’s advertised with it. I might even write into the Daily Mail and complain *gasp*

Next they’ll be using lasers to shine adverts onto our corneas

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