BY AUSTIN BURBRIDGE. LOS ANGELES (CINEMA MINIMA) — Advertising agency BBDO Germany proposes to inject advertisements for its client, Sky Deutschland, directly into the skulls of train travelers. A passenger who leans against a window would hear a voice inside her head, exhorting her to download the Sky Go App.
Bone-conduction technology, ordinarily used in hearing aids — and lately in Google Glass headsets — would transmit signals through the glass in train windows, to the bones of the inner ear, producing the sensation of sounds coming from within the head. The signals are otherwise inaudible.
“Welcome to the advertising world of MINORITY REPORT”
“This is how future advertising will look,” the agency threatens, continuing, with minatory candor, “Welcome to the advertising world of MINORITY REPORT.” The 2002 movie shows a dystopia where government and media have direct channels into the minds of their subjects, and where there will be no way to escape the media’s omnipresence. Its director, Steven Spielberg, observed, “The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing is, we’ll lose our right to privacy.”
Guided by voices
A description (subscription required) of the project for the 2013 Cannes Lions festival boasts, “Here we don’t rely on any given media channel. We create our own.” The document does not talk about asking commuters for permission. Nor does it address the question of whether a method which mimics auditory hallucination — a symptom of mental illness — would create a favorable impression of the client’s brand.
Although BBDO claims “highly encouraging reactions from commuters,” reactions on YouTube are less favorable. “The last thing you would want if you’re trying to rest or relax with your head against the window! Relaxing music maybe but more advertising — No thanks!” remarks ecodigitography. CSILin is more direct: “Fuck you — If these are installed on the trains in my hometown Aachen (which is shown [in this video]), I’m gonna destroy every transmitter and I don’t care if they sue me. It’s unsolicited advertisement I don’t need. Period.”
Conduction of audio through the skeleton has been around since the mid-twentieth century. A German firm, Audiva, which specializes in bone-conduction audio for persons whose hearing is impaired, has produced transmitters which can be attached to windows.