Consumer Reports:  “Digital billboards are tracking you. And they really, really want you to see their ads.”  On social media, your TV, etc.

Consumer Reports: “Digital billboards are tracking you. And they really, really want you to see their ads.” On social media, your TV, etc.

Photo: Consumer Reports

“How the most intrusive parts of the web are expanding into the real world, complete with data collection and targeted ads.

On a bright Friday morning, Frank O’Brien is giving me a tour through Times Square in New York City. Thousands of strangers are milling around us on the sidewalk, and in the crowd, it’s easy to feel anonymous. But according to O’Brien, many of the billboards and screens towering over our heads in every direction know a lot about who we are.

‘As we stand here, there are devices behind that screen that are picking ID numbers from our cell phones,’ O’Brien tells me, gesturing toward a billboard at 42nd Street and 7th Avenue. Using those devices and other technology, he says, ‘We know who is in Times Square at a given moment.’

O’Brien, the CEO of a high-tech advertising platform called Five Tier, launches an app on his phone. He taps a few buttons and in an instant, the billboard changes to display a picture of me I’d sent him the day before. Suddenly, I’m famous, with a 20-foot-high photo of me gazing out over the tourists. ‘It still amazes me sometimes,’ he says…

Data including your gender, age, race, income, interests, and purchasing habits can be used by a company such as Five Tier to trigger an advertisement right away. Or, more often, it will be used for planning where and when to show ads in the future—maybe parents of school-age children tend to pass a particular screen at 3 p.m. on weekdays, while 20-something singles usually congregate nearby on Saturday nights.

Then the tracking continues. Once your phone is detected near a screen showing a particular ad, an advertising company may follow up by showing you related ads in your social media feed, and in some cases these ads may be timed to coordinate with the commercials you see on your smart TV at night.

It doesn’t stop there. Advertisers are keenly interested in ‘attribution,’ judging how well a marketing campaign influences consumer behavior. For instance, is it better to target people like you with online ads for fast food right after you see a restaurant’s new TV commercial, or to wait until after you drive by a new billboard the next day? The advertising industry looks for the answers by watching where you go in person, what you do online, and what you buy with your credit card.

Charts: Example shown in Consumer reports

These aren’t futuristic scenarios. They are a recent but growing trend, according to executives in the advertising business. ‘The industry has really started to wake up to this within the last year,’ says Ian Dallimore, the director of digital growth for Lamar Advertising, a leader in out-of-home advertising. ‘If you’re not using data to better plan and buy ads, then you’re probably not doing out-of-home the right way.’

Researchers say that as tracking and ad targeting spill over from the web into the real world, our collective privacy and sense of control are eroding. If you don’t want to see ads at home, you can close your browser or turn off your phone, but you can’t avoid the ads you see in public. And there’s no practical way to completely block the location tracking used to place those ads…

Photo: Consumer Reports
Lawmakers and regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission are paying more attention to data privacy, but it’s not clear how the measures being put in place will affect the way individuals are tracked through their phones, and how the data is used by data brokers and their clients. Several out-of-home advertising companies I spoke with said they already comply with GDPR, Europe’s sweeping privacy regulation that was implemented in 2018. The companies also say they are prepared for the most stringent privacy legislation in the U.S., the California Consumer Privacy Act, which is supported by Consumer Reports and goes into effect in January 2020.

Five Tier’s Frank O’Brien says that, just like every other industry, the out-of-home advertising business should be regulated. But for now, if you’re not comfortable with how out-of-home advertising uses your information, you don’t have much recourse. ‘I don’t think there’s anything you can do about it,’ he says. ”

— Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports
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Placemaking Technology: Shine Mural Festival in St Pete has a new twist this year

Placemaking Technology: Shine Mural Festival in St Pete has a new twist this year

Photo: Charlie Belcher, Charlie’s World, Fox 13 News
“Company brings wall murals into focus through smart app”

“There is a new way to learn even more about the murals in downtown St. Petersburg, thanks to Pixelstix.

They’ve teamed up with the folks from SHINE Mural Festival to create a digital gallery.

Using a smartphone with the Pixelstix app, visitors to a mural can scan a Pixelstix plaque which will load docent-level information about the mural and the artist onto their device.

Additionally, interactive maps show the locations of the festival’s collection of murals, creating a personalized mural tour… ”

— Charlie Belcher, Fox 13 News
See video to learn about the new technology, meet the founder of Pixelstix and experience Charlie’s World
Read more about the Shine Festival and murals in Tampa Bay Times

“5G coverage coming to Orlando, bringing potentially 20,000 small-cell nodes”

“5G coverage coming to Orlando, bringing potentially 20,000 small-cell nodes”

Photo: A small cell tower across the street from the Orange County Courthouse. The corresponding radio equipment is located in a portion of the adjacent garbage can. Ryan Gillespie, Orlando Sentinel

“…Orlando’s planning department has projected carriers will need about 20,000 nodes to bring about 60% coverage, with the most needed to bring strong coverage to dense downtown and touristy International Drive. At a City Council workshop this month, officials said they and the municipally-owned Orlando Utilities Commission were studying how to encourage carriers to attach their antennas and radio equipment to the same poles, preventing equipment clutter on Orange Avenue.

‘What we have beginning to happen is a lot of nodes occurring on Orange Avenue. If you were to line them all up, you’d be looking at a node every 90 feet,’ Chief Planner Doug Metzger said. ‘In my perfect world, I’d love to get two providers on every node.”

For that to happen, carriers would need to either agree to share new poles installed throughout the city or reach an agreement with OUC to install equipment on the utility’s tower. OUC has some small-cell agreements for antennas to be installed on its poles, though they currently don’t yet have 5G antennas, utility spokesman Tim Trudell said.

The study is underway, and Metzger said he hopes a plan is developed by early October.

Florida cities maintain limited leverage over carriers in Florida, as state legislators pre-empted municipalities from regulating wireless infrastructure in 2017 and further restricted it in 2019.

The 2017 legislation, sponsored in the House by state Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by the Florida League of Cities, along with Naples, Port Orange and Fort Walton Beach, which contend the law allows private businesses to take over city property, with a $150 per pole cap as a fee.

‘We felt the Legislature’s actions were pretty egregious in those two narrow areas,’ said Kraig Conn, general counsel for the League of Cities…

Elsewhere in Central Florida, Winter Park could also see early interest from 5G companies. The city has had talks with carriers, though its city commission hasn’t formally reviewed policy on 5G.

However, Winter Park shares aesthetic concerns, as it has spent millions in recent years burying its power lines, while state law now allows carriers to build poles in the public right of way…”

— Ryan Gillespie, Orlando Sentinel
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Tech:  “This self-driving billboard and vending machine is so dystopian”

Tech: “This self-driving billboard and vending machine is so dystopian”

Photo: PerceptIn, Mashable

The company says the DragonFly is a retail opportunity and will start selling it in the first part of 2019 for $40,000. It’s this lowish price compared to other digital billboards (this marketing site says a digital ad starts at around $10,000 for a month depending on the location) and to other self-driving vehicles that the CEO sees as a key selling point. That and its capabilities to collect location-based data showing when and where people are paying attention to the vehicle…”

— Shasha Lekach, Mashable

Read entire and see video in this article

Two additional examples of these types of devices

“PepsiCo testing self-driving vending machine in California”

Photo: University of the Pacific in Stockton,

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“PerceptIn unleashes a driverless mobile vending machine that displays video ads”

Photo: PerceptIn, Venture Beat

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Tech: Traffic jam food delivery via billboard ordering is slated for LA next

Tech: Traffic jam food delivery via billboard ordering is slated for LA next

Photo: Burger King in Washinton Post

“Amid that influx of innovation, …Burger King is the first fast-food brand to deliver food to people in the middle of a traffic jam. In Mexico City, the company said, delivery drivers are already receiving an average of 7,000 orders per day, mostly to homes and offices.

To make the traffic jam delivery process possible, Burger King’s Mexico app activates the service after identifying congested areas in Mexico City during periods of high traffic. Customers can place an order only if the app determines that the driver will be locked in traffic for at least 30 minutes and they are within 1.8 miles of a Burger King restaurant, the company said.

Push notifications alert drivers when they’ve entered a delivery zone, and company billboards display information about the status of customer orders. Drivers are prompted to place their order using hands-free voice command.

Though the company did not offer a timeline, Burger King says it expects to roll out the Traffic Jam Whopper in other cities with high-density traffic, such as Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Shanghai.”

— Peter Holley , Washington Post

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Tech: What billboard? “These magical sunglasses block all the screens around you”

Tech: What billboard? “These magical sunglasses block all the screens around you”

Photo: IRL Glasses, Wired

“EARLY LAST YEAR, Scott Blew was standing in line at a food truck in Los Angeles when he caught the glare of Fox News on a television out of the corner of his eye. This is ridiculous, he thought. He couldn’t even escape the deluge of the news, or the ubiquity of screens, on a jaunt outdoors to get lunch. You could consciously choose to put your phone away, to step away from your laptop, but then some other screen would pop up elsewhere, whether you liked it or not.

Blew, an entrepreneur and engineer, recalled an article he’d recently read in WIRED about a new kind of film that blocked the light emitted from screens. Plaster it on the glass walls of fishbowl conference rooms and other people could see in—but they couldn’t see what was on someone’s laptop. Blew wondered if the same technology might work on a pair of glasses, to block the screens that seemed to be everywhere.

He contacted Steelcase, the company that made the Casper screen-blocking film, and ordered a sample. Then he popped out the lenses in a pair of cheap sunglasses and replaced them with the film. Amazingly, it worked: Blew could look through the lenses and see everything—except for screens, which turned black.

Blew brought the prototype to his friend Ivan Cash, an artist, who thought the glasses were brilliant. Now, Cash and a small team are turning that concept into a real product. Their IRL Glasses, which launched on Kickstarter this week, block the wavelengths of light that comes from LED and LCD screens. Put them on and the TV in the sports bar seems to switch off; billboards blinking ahead seem to go blank. Within three days of launch, the project had surpassed its funding goal of $25,000. (Like all Kickstarters, this one comes with the usual caveats….)””

— Arielle Pardes, Wired

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