« Tuesday Gumpagraph | Main | Today's Bush Joke »

May 01, 2007

Narrowcasting Ads Via Focussed Audio Corporations, Globalization  Media  Science/Technology

Hearing voices? Maybe this is why. Boston Globe (via Cryptogon):

Advertisers have a new way to get into your head.

Marketers around the world are using innovative audio technology that sends sound in a narrow beam, just like light, making it possible to direct messages right into consumers' ears while they shop or sit in waiting rooms.

The audio spotlight device, created by Watertown firm Holosonic Research Labs Inc., has been used to hawk everything from cereals in supermarket aisles to glasses at doctor's offices. The messages are often quick and targeted -- and a little creepy to the uninitiated.

Court TV recently installed the audio spotlight in ceilings of bookstores to promote the network's new murder-mystery show. A voice, whispering, "Hey, you, can you hear me? Do you ever think about murder?" was beamed toward customers as they browsed the mystery section in several independent bookstores in New York.

For advertisers, the audio spotlight is a way of marketing to consumers, sending tailored messages without disturbing an entire store with loudspeaker announcements such as Kmart's iconic "Blue Light Special." The flat disk speakers with precision targeting have made sound possible in unlikely places -- from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts to the New York Public Library -- and are increasingly attractive to merchants trying to improve the shopping experience with a peaceful environment. [...]

Unlike traditional speakers, which broadcast sound in every direction, sound from an audio spotlight speaker can be focused directly at one spot, so no one else can hear it, or projected against a surface so that sound appears to come from the surface itself.

For example, a box of Fruity Pebbles can advertise its nutritional content, heard by shoppers only as they walk by boxes in the cereal aisle. The audio spotlight uses ultrasound to stimulate the air into making sound, which is emitted in focused, laser-like beams. [Emphasis added]

What an awful idea. First time I encounter one of these things in a store, I'm going to boycott that store for life.

Posted by Jonathan at May 1, 2007 10:25 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Hmmm... this is going to make diagnosing schizophrenia a lot trickier.

Posted by: Michael at May 3, 2007 09:02 AM