Thursday, September 9, 2010

RIM Patents Adaptive/Smart Billboards Based on Road Traffic

RIM, the company best know for the BlackBerry, has filed a patent indicating it may be making its way into advertising. Specifically smart or adaptive billboards. The idea is pretty simple. When traffic is flowing drivers and their passengers neither have the time nor inclination to read long winded billboards (to say nothing of the safety issues). As traffic slows the people stuck have more time and may look for distractions. Thus when the vehicles are speeding along the billboard will display giant logos (or something of the sort) and as they slow down from traffic jams the billboards will display more detailed ads. RIM will be able to tell how quickly the traffic is flowing by tracking the BlackBerrys in them.

"According to mobile-focused blog Unwired View, the innovation comes in the form of using nearby phones to measure traffic speed and density and then adapting a billboard's content accordingly.

When traffic is moving fast and drivers have no time to pay attention to billboards, or there's a dense crowd on the street so you are distracted and less likely to pay attention, the billboard may just blast a huge logo and slogan of the advertiser at you, to catch any peripheral attention it can get. When traffic slows down in a jam, and you are sitting bored at the wheel waiting for a car in front to move the next few meters, grateful for any distraction, the same billboard will give you a detailed information about the service, prices, benefits and stuff.

The two separate patents are for "Adaptive roadside billboard system and related methods" and "Adaptive pedestrian billboard system and related methods"; both are described as having a storage system that could retain a number of different messages for different speeds and traffic densities. Beyond the level of detail involved, such a system could also be used to offer interaction opportunities when density is high and speed is low (such as in a traffic jam).

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