Pop-up ads on the Internet have become downright rabid in recent years. How about those ads on Facebook—soon to be followed by ads on Twitter—that make it all too clear Big Brother has been paying attention to your every move? Soon, a new kind of advertisement may start invading your evening commute, when you’re wiped out from a long day’s work.
We’ve all done it. It’s 5:15, or maybe 7:15, or god forbid, 10:15, and you’re finally able to hop on a train and head home from work. You don’t care how filthy the window is—anything that helps prop up your head is a welcome addition to your world. So you lean back, shut your eyes for just a second…and then you hear a voice. You look around, but the voice is coming from inside your own head, inaudible to everyone else. Are you finally losing it, cracking under the pressure?
Then out of nowhere, you want to buy a new pair of jeans.
BBDO Düsseldorf and Sky Deutschland have developed Sky Go, otherwise known as “the talking window.” Sky Go is a special transmitter that can be attached to a train window where it sends out inaudible, high frequency vibrations. The vibrations are then translated into sound by the brain via “bone conduction” technology.
Beethoven was the first, and most famous person, to use bone conduction. The composer was stone deaf, but needed some way to “hear” the music he made. So he attached a rod to his piano and held the other end in his teeth while he played. His brain converted the vibrations into familiar notes. Not only is bone conduction used to help deaf people hear, it is also employed by the military, at construction sites, and in some headphones.
Unlike our usual way of hearing, bone conduction bypasses the eardrum entirely, allowing the vibrations to go directly to the cochlea, the auditory portion of the inner ear. A BBDO spokesperson says that they hope to start using Sky Go in Germany soon, and that potential use extends beyond advertising, to news, weather, sports, and more. Who are they trying to kid, we all know marketing will be the primary focus.
It’s hard to imagine a more compelling ad at the end of a long, hard day than the sound of a cold beer being opened playing straight into your head. Still, this seems to be yet another reason not to take a seat on the subway, or better yet, to skip the train altogether. No one’s invented an ad that transmits into your skull from a bike helmet. Yet.