Commentary

Say Hello to Screens That Say Hello

New Yorkers who commuted through New York's Penn Station last month may have noticed something a bit unusual: digital screens greeting passersby by name, offering customized video based on their preferences.

Designed to promote Intel's new "smart TV" mobile video service, the digital displays were installed as part of an experiential event in the Penn Station Rotunda from Dec. 15-29 -- the culmination of a broader outdoor advertising campaign across the New York market in preceding weeks.

To participate, consumers just had to text "Hello" to 64444, which brought up a link that allowed them to download Intel's "smart TV" mobile app to their handheld devices. The app then asked a few questions about their viewing habits to deliver mobile video content tailored to their preferences. When they attended the Penn Station events, the digital out-of-home displays greeted them by name and showed video based on the information they had shared via mobile.

The real question, of course, is how the digital out-of-home video displays were able to recognize attendees to the Penn Station Rotunda events. CBS Outdoor employed a technology called "geofencing" developed by Location Labs to detect an individual's mobile device once he or she entered Penn Station. and prepare the customized digital messages (earlier this year Location Labs released a "library" that allows developers to create all kinds of iPhone apps using geofencing to deliver messages to mobile device users in defined areas).

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The interactive touchscreen displays were programmed and operated by Four Winds Interactive, also working with CBS Outdoor.

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