The plunging price of organic LED screens combined with cunning use of depth-sensing Kinect cameras heralds a quantum leap in interactive advertising
THE writing’s on the wall – and it’s following you. Two new gesture-sensing innovations designed for large electronic screens in public places herald a future in which everything from street art to advertisements track your movements, are fully interactive, and nigh on impossible to ignore.
Giant flat-screen displays powered by organic LEDs (OLEDs) are plunging in price, so screens tens of metres long could soon line urban corridors. Rather than have them simply fire messages at a tuned-out public, researchers at the Technical University of Berlin (TUB) in Germany have built two applications that they hope will captivate passers-by and inspire a new wave of interactive displays.
OLED flat-screen technology is already finding its way into our private spaces:homeowners will soon be able to cover whole living-room walls with screenslike wallpaper. While TV companies ponder what content is best displayed on such vast indoor vistas, the TUB team has been working out what can be achieved with vast outdoor displays.
“We believe that in the future all surfaces in urban areas could be interactive displays,” says team member Robert Walter. “This presents great opportunities and challenges as it will need to be attractive and work in an intelligent way.” The researchers will reveal their first two street-smart applications – StrikeAPose and Screenfinity – next month at the CHI conference in Paris, France. They believe that while advertising could provide the impetus for the adoption of the technology, non-commercial apps will also appear – courtesy of artists or poets, perhaps.
StrikeAPose, developed by Walter’s team, lets a person in the street perform a unique gesture to take control of anything from a bus-shelter advert screen to a large, Times-Square-style video wall. Once you are registered as the screen controller, software fed by the depth cameras used in Microsoft’s Kinect system lets you control, say, a gesture-driven game. In trials in a university cafeteria, the team settled on a registration gesture they call The Teapot: users put their hands on both hips, their arms describing the profile of two teapot handles. This was the most robust gesture, even when obfuscated by thick clothing.
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