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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Advertisers Get Inside Your Head

posted by on December 13 at 8:12 AM

Uh… this seems creepy. And it seems like an invasion of privacy. And it seems like a bad idea in a city crawling with street lunatics that are already hearing voices in their heads.

New Yorker Alison Wilson was walking down Prince Street in SoHo last week when she heard a woman’s voice right in her ear asking, “Who’s there? Who’s there?” She looked around to find no one in her immediate surroundings. Then the voice said, “It’s not your imagination.”

Indeed it isn’t. It’s an ad for “Paranormal State,” a ghost-themed series premiering on A&E this week. The billboard uses technology manufactured by Holosonic that transmits an “audio spotlight” from a rooftop speaker so that the sound is contained within your cranium. The technology, ideal for museums and libraries or environments that require a quiet atmosphere for isolated audio slideshows, has rarely been used on such a scale before. For random passersby and residents who have to walk unwittingly through the area where the voice will penetrate their inner peace, it’s another story.

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This technology is also ideally suited to fanatical fundamentalist churches, extremist political rallies, and, of course, drunken sorority parties. Listen to the voice in your head: "Go ahead...take it know you want to..."

Posted by jack | December 13, 2007 8:22 AM

Ah... so that's why my investments in Tinfoil Haberdasheries just went through the roof.

Posted by Packratt | December 13, 2007 8:26 AM

Crap, I remember hearing about this shit in Tokoyo years ago; it finally made it here. That is the creepiest shit I have ever heard of and we should not accept it. do you tear down a billboard?

Posted by Dianna | December 13, 2007 8:50 AM

@3, shoot out the speakers.

Posted by David | December 13, 2007 8:52 AM

Too far...this goes too far.

Posted by Hernandez | December 13, 2007 8:57 AM

With what advertising already does to voices in your head/self dialogue

(you're not good enough)
(you're nothing without this)
(you need this)
(you're a bad parent if you don't provide this)

it's strangely not that big of a departure from modern techniques =/

Posted by Lake | December 13, 2007 8:58 AM

There was a good article about this in the NY Times magazine 4 years ago:

Posted by Trevor | December 13, 2007 9:02 AM

We should aim one at Fred Phelp's clan and pretend we're God talking to them! "Fred, leave the gays alone! You're going to hell, Fred. Fred, I'm coming to get yoooouuuuu....."

Posted by Johnny | December 13, 2007 9:02 AM

I can wait to get my hands on the "Mr. Microphone" version of this thing. Oh, the terrible, terrible things I would do....

Posted by Providence | December 13, 2007 9:21 AM

I don't think this dog will hunt, as the saying goes.

For one thing, far too many people already have a plethora of sounds being beamed directly into their crania (?), albeit via the traditional method of the ear-canal, what with personal stereo/mp3 players, cellphones, blue-tooth headsets and whatnot. Enough people complaining that their telephone conversations or music listening is being disrupted by these "billboards", and the FCC, FTC, or some other government agency will either ban or severely restrict their usage.

After all, it's one thing to be constantly assaulted by advertisements as you're walking down the street, but at least you still have the option of not looking or turning up the volume on your own device. As I understand this new technology, you really don't have any similar option if you come within range of one of the transmitters, so it does, to a certain extent at least constitute an invasion of privacy - at least what little privacy we still have left outside of our own homes.

Posted by COMTE | December 13, 2007 9:25 AM

Who cares? Most peoples inner peace is wasted talking on their cell phones all the time.

Posted by Chaco | December 13, 2007 9:25 AM

When you call it an "invasion of privacy," you're assuming it can hear you think.

Posted by Joshua | December 13, 2007 10:04 AM

Does it disrupt your phone conversation or ipod listening, or does the ipod drown it out?

Posted by arduous | December 13, 2007 10:26 AM

the line is drawn. this is fucking bullshit.

i impinges on my liberty & my pursuit of happiness. but, this being Murka, i bet its everywhere in a year, especially in malls, which are private space.

on public right of ways it will take 6 months longer.

Posted by max solomon | December 13, 2007 10:31 AM

describing it as being beamed directly to your cranium is a little misleading- From what I understand of this technology, it emits sound much like a laser emits light; in a focused beam, rather than a shotgun spray of sound like traditional speakers.

If this is the case, then it can easily be drowned out with an ipod or cellphone... In any case, I'd say it's an improvement over loudspeakers, since it only hits you in a small area.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | December 13, 2007 10:38 AM


For want of a blowtorch an intrusive billboard was saved.

This is so far beyond the line that I would actively help anyone seeking to get rid of this thing.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 13, 2007 10:46 AM

you can still hear your ipod -- the sound doesn't originate "in your head". it could be useful for venues located under new condos.

Posted by infrequent | December 13, 2007 10:57 AM

Kent, this is God. From now on, stop playing with yourself.

Posted by F | December 13, 2007 11:25 AM

omg. that would scare the SHIT out of me.

Posted by HELLno! | December 13, 2007 11:43 AM

Gotta agree that this isn't conducive to mental health, but its the idiots who by them when they are $10 that will be the problem. Remember when laser pointers came down in price? Couldn't goto a movie for months.

I don't think its much different that a traditional loudspeaker, people will get use to it and it will get regulated if its out of hand. Kinda like traditional speaker advertisements.

Leela: "Didn't you have ads in the 20th century?"
Fry: "Well sure, but not in our dreams! Only on tv and radio...and in magazines...and movies. And at ball games, on buses, and milk cartons, and t-shirts, and bananas, and written on the sky. But not in dreams! No sirree."

Posted by Just Some Guy | December 13, 2007 12:05 PM

ha! (futurama)

Posted by infrequent | December 13, 2007 12:49 PM

I think i would pee myself if this happened. And then be stuck on a sidewalk soaked in urine. Maybe afterwards i could peddle for change...

Posted by carlydear | December 13, 2007 2:47 PM

How quickly would these be banned if we used them to say, pester fat cats downtown, or rich suburbanites, or fascist public officals? Bring 'em on...I look forward to buying one of these.

Posted by Mike | December 15, 2007 6:51 AM

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