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BluScreen tailors ads to audiences

An interactive advertising technology which identifies passers-by and allows them to download information to their ‘phone or PDA, is being tested at the University of Southampton.

BluScreen, a 58 centimetre-wide screen displaying information about upcoming seminars, lectures and events has been installed in the reception area of the School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS).

The screen detects the presence of people carrying Bluetooth enabled devices in its vicinity and begins to show them adverts, while at the same time building a record of what they have seen to ensure that messages are not repeated.

Now, Dr Terry Payne at ECS and his team have developed the system a stage further so that individuals passing the screen can pick an advert they like and have the information downloaded to their ‘phone so that they can access it at a later stage.

This works by individuals selecting the adverts of interest to them on a touchscreen in the reception area, signalling if they would like more information sent to their ‘phone, and then receiving a “business card” download with just the URLs of the websites with further information, which they can access in their own time.

‘This could work really well in the cinema where people are relaxing and then see something that interests them which they would like to follow up afterwards,’ said Dr Payne.

BluScreen uses software “agents” to represent different adverts. These agents have a fixed advertising budget and bid against each other.

‘The agents are interested in showing their content to people who haven’t seen it before,’ said Dr Alex Rogers who developed the screen with Dr Payne.

According to the researchers, BluScreen has definite commercial potential and they are currently developing systems to enable them to build profiles and to start matching IDs with markets.

‘There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about using smart tags to track the whereabouts of individuals,’ said Dr Payne. ‘The thinking behind BluScreen is that everybody has a ‘phone these days, so why not use this instead.

It also makes sense from a security point of view as our system does not pull anything off a ‘phone and individuals can switch off their Bluetooth functionality if they do not want to receive information in this way.’

Helene Murphy | alfa
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