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Beamed Sonic Advertising Is Coming

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the told-you-i-was-hearing-voices dept.

Privacy 396

newtley writes in with a story from Ad Age a few days back. "Advertisers are determined to get into your head by one means or another, and Holosonic Research Labs has found yet another way of invading your privacy in the name of forcing you pay attention. You're walking down a street in New York when all of a sudden, a woman's voice whispers 'Who's that? Who's There?' No, you weren't having a psychotic episode; you were being subjected without your permission to 'sound in a narrow beam, just like light.' It was coming at you from a rooftop speaker seven stories up."

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396 comments

Pandora's box (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710646)

It makes one wonder about the concept of graffit... The process (usually illegal) of drawing symbols, images or words on private or public surfaces without permission. This really, is the process of using sonic graffiti that I can imagine would be readily open to hacking, sonic tagging and sonic vandalism. Of course this opens up all sorts of questions as well: What sorts of messages are appropriate to beam into someone's awareness? What about inappropriate messages? How about unintended consequences when someone with paranoid schizophrenia encounters these messages? What are the legal implications if someone else targets the same area with a different sonic message than the one intended by the advertiser?

Personally, I find this advertising practice offensive and a little ignorant of where the possibilities may lead to. Furthermore, I am disappointed that A&E television would engage in this sort of thing, but A&E has been sliding down the slippery slope into crass, base appeal lately, attempting to go for shock factor at the expense of cultural sophistication. Back on topic: Would the advertiser consider it offensive if their message was sonically blocked via interfering sound waves? Would they consider someone else beaming messages into the same "acoustic space" unfair competition? Would they consider it vandalism? What are the liabilities if in the very unlikely possibility, a paranoid schizophrenic were to become violent in response to such messages? (note: only a very small percentage of paranoid schizophrenic patients are outwardly violent)

If I lived in NYC, this would be a call to me for a little social experimentation with A&Es advertising campaign. But beyond that, think about the possibilities for social filtering, or even the surreptitious delivery of information, allowing the legal (or illegal) routing of people, goods and supplies via temporally discrete windows of sonic delivery.

Re:Pandora's box (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710720)

I dunno about you, but I wouldn't have to be a paranoid schizophrenic to get violent over being marauded by advertisement. It's just something that would slowly eat away at my sanity, forcing me to kill the next person that walks by, hopefully an advertiser. On another note, the more persistent and annoying the ad, the greater lengths I go to avoid that particular company. Hell, within 1 millisecond of hearing a familiar, but grinding jingle, I tend to change the channel of whatever I'm watching/hearing.

Re:Pandora's box (1)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711004)

Why not just smash the equipment, or sequester it... and when confronted by police, make a BIG case out of the fact that they were ignoring a public assault on your physical person and the company in question assaulted you with a "sonic shockwave device" which you find to be quite offensive and dangerous to your health and safety. Demand that they pay for the fear and lack of safety you felt, as well as the invasion of your personal space, then sue the city AND the company in question and research the few other means by which you can take them to the cleaners.

Isn't this ridiculous? They're worried that smoking, is bad, and banning smoking even in private residences or public places, but they have no problem allowing invasions of privacy that are targeted in such a manner.

Talk about a world needing a massive overhaul.

Re:Pandora's box (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710868)

Imagine if a group of atheists put one of these devices near the entrance to a church. They could beam messages to the congregation as they enter and leave the church. Imagine the outburst that messages such as, "This is God. Intelligent Design is for retards." and "This is God. I know you touch yourself." would lead to!

Re:Pandora's box (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711198)

"This is God. I know you touch yourself."
Ok, I'm dying, what movie is this from?

Re:Pandora's box (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711242)

The Laser movie everyone was just commenting about - Real Geniuses IIRC. They install The Voice Of God in the a$$-hat's braces.

Re:Pandora's box (1)

chriscos (1158291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711250)

Real Genius.

Re:Pandora's box (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711260)

It'd certainly be a prime target for hacking... What group of nerds wouldn't love to subvert something like this into whispering obscene messages, or decreeing random commandments from God? It'd be much better than a billboard, since it's more intrusive, you can watch each single person as they receive the message, and yet it would take longer time to discover the malfunction. Also susceptible to simple hardhacks like cranking the volume up to eleven.

Re:Pandora's box (1)

das_magpie (1149995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711340)

Sounds to me someone is worried about no body paying attention to the show.

Re:Pandora's box (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711346)

When you pay for it, it's allowed and legal. When you don't pay for it, it's illegal. Duh! (LOL)

I for one... (0)

Pranadevil2k (687232) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710650)

welcome our new sonic beamed overlords?

Psychosis ahead ... (5, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710652)

... I could imagine that this advancement of the 'art of advertising' could do some harm to people that are not so stable.

CC.

Re:Psychosis ahead ... (4, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710696)

... I could imagine that this advancement of the 'art of advertising' could do some harm to people that are not so stable.

I'm stable, as far as I know, and it might just cause me to fucking kill someone if I happen to hear it. Thus, I'm not so certain that it's limited to those who have fragile psyches.

Re:Psychosis ahead ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710756)

Thus, I'm not so certain that it's limited to those who have fragile psyches.

As things go, you would be 'not stable' by definition if you can not cope with what is/will be rated 'normal' :(

CC.

Re:Psychosis ahead ... (4, Interesting)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711318)

As things go, you would be 'not stable' by definition if you can not cope with what is/will be rated 'normal' :(

The trouble is that "stable" is a relative term, not an absolute one. "Stable" means stable in a given environment. The question we ought to consider here is how far this particular initiative is going to move the definition of stable away from the current baseline.

The worrying thing is that stability is most likely a bell curve. Which would mean that a small shift could result in a huge increase in instability in urban populations.

I think this is a valid cause for concern

Re:Psychosis ahead ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711112)

I'd just destroy their nice sonic mind-control device and say it told me to do it.

Makes good sense in my book.

Re:Psychosis ahead ... (5, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711276)

... I could imagine that this advancement of the 'art of advertising' could do some harm to people that are not so stable.

Yeah, these technologies ARE pretty obnoxious. All day long when I walk up and down the street, I'm getting voices in my ear and they just won't stop. I've got Safeway telling me about specials in their frozen foods section. Starbucks is telling me to buy their Cappucino. And Home Depot is constantly telling me that I've got to get a high powered rifle and take out the governor's dog so I can impress Jodi Foster, and do it NOW, NOW, NOW! And I've TRIED to make them stop, but no matter how many home improvement projects I start, Home Depot just will not relent!

It got so bad that until I read this story, I was beginning to doubt my own sanity.

So what? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710664)

I doubt I'll hear it. I usually have my iPod on when I'm walking around outside.

-jcr

Re:So what? (3, Insightful)

welcher (850511) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710744)

Well, you're missing out on a whole lot more than annoying advertising.

Re:So what? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711128)

Yeah, like that truck that's about to smash you flat as a pancake.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711222)

Like dangers of passing vehicles, auditory warnings for automatic doors. Not to mention the fact that your hearing will suffer in the long term.

But lets face something, we are at war, and this is a rational defence. Each and every citizen is currently in a battle for cognitive/sensory space in an urban environment. Noise pollution is an enormous source of stress. The inability to concentrate amid competing voices for our attention is highly damaging, to the individual and the economy as a whole. Corporate and public messages are crass, deliberately grating, patronising, insulting pollution of the worst kind. I don't listen to an mp3 player but I do use high density in-ear silencers when travelling on public transport in the UK in order to avoid the Orwellian announcements made on average every 60 seconds. Nothing else allows me to read or use my laptop.

So, it's no surprise that large parts of the population are choosing to block out the only sensory channel that we have no physical contrl over, you cant close your ears.

While this technology has useful benefits, such as targeted paging in airports, allowing it into the hands of advertisers is sure to provoke an extreme negative reaction. Several people have already mentioned violence as a reaction to intrusive sound. I must say I find this unsurprising. I think even I would immediately try and locate the source of such an invasive act and smash the thing to pieces with complete disregard for the consequences, indeed I would be proud to stand up in front of the judge and say that I considered it a personal assult (since it's directed at an individual) and was taking reasonable defensive measures.

If I follow you around in the street hectoring you after you have asked me to go away that is a verbal assault. The lack of physical violence is immaterial.

I have no doubt on this one, if the law cannot provide reasonable protections of an individuals personal boundaries then the mob will.

Re:So what? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711246)

John C. Randolph has experienced more than you probably ever will. Do you even realize who he is? Besides Slava Pestov, he is perhaps the greatest software developer of our generation. For years he was one of the most sought after developers on Wall Street. But he opted to go work for Apple instead. And his contributions to Mac OS X have been some of the most significant. Frankly, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Mr. Randolph.

It's more penetrating than that (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711068)

I expect you will hear it. It's a collimated sound beam that vibrates the skull. Listeners describe it as seeming like a voice from inside.

Woody Norris, the inventor of the device, spent some time spooking people at the mall. He claims he always told them what he'd done afterward, but you can see how someone might abuse such a thing. Easy to convince someone they're crazy.

I'm glad the device is in Times Square. I hope as many advertisers use this as quickly as possible. Right now, only a tenth of the populace at most knows about these things. Everyone else is as vulnerable to trickery as the natives in any colonialist short story about explorers pretending to be gods.

"Johnson, show the Ugabi your flashlight again!"
Natives: "EV-ER-ED-EE! EV-ER-ED-EE!"

Once enough companies are advertising this way, it'll be more like Scooby-Doo.

"Farmer Stoutworthy was using this projector to beam a ghost onto the barn wall, and for his swamp-thing mask he used phosphorous paint."
"I would have gotten away with it too, if you meddling kids had never been to a movie theatre or had a glow-in-the-dark toy!"

Only one reasonable approach... (5, Interesting)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710670)

...for me if I encounter a device like this, is to leave and come back with a baseball bat and trash the device into pieces. This measure is clearly an invasion of privacy if I'm generous and assault if not so generous. I do not want to be bombarded by forced mind control that is advertising.

Re:Only one reasonable approach... (1)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710762)

That was my first thought. However, TFA shows a picture of the speakers mounted on the top of a building, presumably secured from trespassers.

Re:Only one reasonable approach... (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710848)

However, TFA shows a picture of the speakers mounted on the top of a building, presumably secured from trespassers.

This is why we should all learn to shoot rifles.

Re:Only one reasonable approach... (1)

Cjstone (1144829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711082)

The only problem is that shooting a rifle in a city is illegal, and rifles are very loud and difficult to hide.

Re:Only one reasonable approach... (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711154)

One can, so I'm told, make a one- or two-use silencer out of a 2-liter plastic soda bottle.

Silencers are illegal in .us, nudge wink.

Re:Only one reasonable approach... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711102)

This is why we should all learn to shoot rifles.

Crossbows are much more quiet. We wouldn't want to invade someone's space with our rifle fire, after all.

Re:Only one reasonable approach... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710808)

Actually, they've had their speaker stolen and had to replace it and increase the security.

This is a particularly invasive and obnoxious form of advertising - they *force* you to hear their message. Your response is entirely reasonable.

Re:Only one reasonable approach... (1)

witte (681163) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710882)

Not that I'd get violent, but the idea to trash the device would certainly cross my mind :)
It's bad enough that every free square meter is plastered over with ads. They are usually butt-ugly and annoying. Buses, tv, billboards on buildings, products you buy, you name it. Always an ad trying to peddle some product I don't need.

However, this tech could be used on the battlefield for transmitting orders over large distances if it can be fitted in a small portable format, bolted onto a troop transport, or something along those lines.

This could also be used for 'Voice of God' pranks.
"Rod... Todd... This is God." *grin*

Re:Only one reasonable approach... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711070)

This could also be used for 'Voice of God' pranks.

You may augment search space by terms like 'subsonic', 'subliminal', 'government', 'corporation' etc. and come to the conclusion that the tinfoil hat needs some 'sonic layers'.

CC.

Re:Only one reasonable approach... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710954)

uh... yeah... and when billlboards first came out people torched them....

but now they are common... as people gave up.

So I hope you don't give up and keep destroying them

you know... defacing a billboard can be considered a terrirrst act now.... so...

yeah...
the world of enforced advertising...
argh.

TIN FOIL HATTER'S UNITE!! (4, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710684)

AHA! We all knew it. We saw it coming. They laughed at us yes... YES!! Well, now THEY'LL be the ones to laugh at... ahhhhahhhahahahahhahhahaa!

Tinfoil hat brethren, I say we unite and add tinfoil earmuffs to the wardrobe. NAY!! The WHOLE wardrobe must be tinfoil. Only then will you be SAFE FROM THIS INVASION!!

VINDICATION IS SO SWEET!!

Re:TIN FOIL HATTER'S UNITE!! (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710920)

You kid, but the tinfoil hat producers in New York will see a sudden boom of increased traffic. That or else places that sell noise-cancelling headphones. Which of course will lead to accidents, which will then lead to lawsuits. Hope this company has a good legal department, they'll need it.

PLURALIZER'S WITH APOSTROPHE'S UNIT!!E (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711100)

If you're gonna put apostrophes at random places, I can put exclamation marks anywhere I want. I think that's reasonable.

You must agree to my EULA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710694)

...before talking to me.

Should be illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710704)

I can turn off the TV or radio, close a magazine or close my eyes, but soon the only option left will be to not go outside.

Re:Should be illegal (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711226)

"I can turn off the TV or radio, close a magazine or close my eyes, but soon the only option left will be to not go outside."

Nothing like the safety of the maternal basement.

Ask your doctor about Zyprexa (4, Funny)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710712)

How long until everyone starts hearing THAT while walking down the street?

Not invading your privacy... (1, Insightful)

bagboy (630125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710722)

Umm, there is NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY IN A PUBLIC LOCATION! Now that I have your attention, this is why anyone can videotape you walking down the street, record a vocal conversation on a street corner without your permission, etc.... When you are in public, you do not have any expectation of privacy.

I hate the paranoia that creeps into slashdot....

Re:Not invading your privacy... (1)

LoadWB (592248) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710764)

This really is not about privacy. If I am in public and an advertising in playing, I can generally avoid or ignore that ad. Having it beamed to my ear directly is a nuisance I cannot escape.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (1)

bagboy (630125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710802)

I didn't say that the technique was proper nor if it was legal (IANAL). Just that slashdot's editors wrongfully labeled this as invasion of privacy - which it is not.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (4, Insightful)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711024)

It surely is an invasion of privacy, and human dignity, by the way. Being watched and videotaped is a passive invasion of privacy and unavoidable from a public standpoint. Being blasted with shocking audio messages from an unclear source and sharply increasing intensity is active invasion of privacy and much much worse.

Imagine someone screaming in your ear when you least expect it. Would you say "Hey, its in public, so go on, hurt my ears"?

I don't think so. I hate advertising as the next guy, but this is certainly a step too far. It frightens, disorients or startles unsuspecting people, it disrupts talking, endangers bikers and motorists and may cause much more mayhem than I can think.

This IS like yelling FIRE! in a crowded theater. If this is ruled as legally acceptable advertising, expect eye-safe lasers and strobos everywhere flashing directly into your eyes.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (3, Informative)

Pranadevil2k (687232) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710792)

In this case, I'd be getting shot at by what is essentially a hi-tech megaphone from an unknown location by people I most likely can't see and don't know. Honestly I think this might go beyond the scope of privacy invasion and be considered a weapon. Hearing things out of nowhere is not only confusing, but disturbing; just walking along and suddenly I'm hearing an advertisement... I don't have braces, I shouldn't have to put up with that.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711136)

Not to mention the hearing damage that was caused by this device.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710798)

So I can shine a laser beam on you while you're walking down the street? It's about the same thing.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (1)

bagboy (630125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710890)

yes-in fact, you can. As long as it does no harm to me and is not classified as an assault, it is no different than shining a flashlight in my direction.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710950)

I think what's really at question here is whether this could cause harm. How mentally unstable would a person have to be to start with for this to send them over the edge? What if it blocks someone's ability to hear someone/something coming up behind them and they're injured? Or you're driving, your window is down, and it blocks your ability to hear another car honking and leads to an accident?

It's less like shining a flashlight in your direction and more like shining it directly into your eyes while you walk down the street.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (1)

JamesTRexx (675890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711292)

It's less like shining a flashlight in your direction and more like shining it directly into your eyes while you walk down the street.

Exactly my thought when I read "It's just like having a flashlight vs. a light bulb". Shining a light in my eyes is irritating and if you keep on doing it I will make you stop, by force if neccessary, which would either end up destroyed equipment or a (class action) lawsuit.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710810)

Not true, in some areas what you describe is actually illegal.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (0, Flamebait)

neumayr (819083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710824)

maybe in the us that's the case, but as slashdot is relevant to places that actually have privacy laws that deserve being called such, it's not paranoia to point out the privacy implications of such developments.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (1)

bagboy (630125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710856)

Yes well, the article references New York... so my reply is based on an inaccurate sumamry by slashdot's editors claiming it's "invasion of your privacy".

Of course it's not invading your privacy (4, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710828)

But one of the strongest arguments in favor of certain kinds of free speech is the "avert your eyes" principle. Certain semi-objectionable kinds of speech are permitted in public places because hey, if you don't like it, you don't have to look at it. If you don't want to listen to the street-preacher, fine, just walk away. But we will go ahead and tell said street preacher that he can't use a megaphone, for this very same reason.

This "development" is just a very particularized way to create unavoidable sound--it's not "loud" in the traditional sense, but you might as well be walking past a loudspeaker. It's a nuisance and it's a violation of your right to be free from speech, even in a public place, because it circumvents the usual "avert your eyes" excuse. Local ordinances against this sort of thing would almost certainly pass Constitutional muster, so while I'm not generally in favor of more regulation, I'd encourage people to get laws against this sort of device passed in their respective communities.

Though I am not a lawyer, and that is not legal advice, I am a law student and I did just finish a course in First Amendment law.

Re:Of course it's not invading your privacy (1)

BinaryOpty (736955) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711132)

Couldn't you just walk away from this? I mean it's a stationary device pointing to one area. You could start avoiding the area entirely, discovering new routes around it. If business in the area decreases from people avoiding the billboard wouldn't that encourage them to remove it? I just don't see how this is (too much) different from if the billboard was shouting the same thing to everyone. It's just beaming it in a narrow column: just walk away. I guess the confusion comes from the Slashdot writeup that makes it seem like some guy's going to be standing on the rooftop aiming the device at you, but that's not the case. If that were the case I can see the cause for alarm, but since it isn't I find the majority of the posts in here to be alarmist at best.

Re:Not invading your privacy... (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711072)

You're right. Why so many posters here seem to think that this has something to do with privacy, I have no idea.

While you don't have a right to privacy, you do have a right to a certain amount of quiet. Mostly this is ignored. Have you ever heard a car blaring music so loud that it's painful to you? That's actually illegal most places. It's noise pollution. You could actually get a ticket for that.

Most noise pollution laws are targeted at unidirectional sound, and therefore cover a specific dB of sound that is illegal. They'd probably have to be upgraded to cover this instance. The point is that it is illegal to put unavoidable amounts of noise into the publicly shared air, and this certainly qualifies.

In... (1)

Hangin10 (704729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710742)

In Soviet Russia, ...you speak into the mic?

I know the first marketing scheme (2, Funny)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710752)

Lightspeed briefs, style and comfort for the discriminating crotch!!

May Violate Noise Pollution Ordinances (3, Insightful)

n76lima (455808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710758)

Many municipalities have ordinances against intentional noise, like the ones against overly loud Car Stereos. The local ones specify a number of feet from the source as the limit for hearing the sound.

Targeted "sonic advertising" could be construed as noise pollution, even if it has a very small foot print.

I am not keen to see a technology like this used to interrupt one's thoughts and concentration, particularly for commercial purposes.

A possible "good" use for it might be at street crossings to warn pedestrians of changes in the traffic lights. I am sure that other uses for the public good could be found.

--
Sig: A model airplane company in Montezuma IA.

But Imagine This In The Hands of the People (4, Interesting)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710766)

How much fun would it be to beam things at politicos speaking at rallies? Confuse them and make them say things they didn't mean?

Or, by targeting the microphone itself, just speak directly to their audience?

The Space Merchants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710770)

This is exactly like The Space Merchants by Fred Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth. The book was written many years ago as satire but sadly it is now almost completely true!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Space_Merchants [wikipedia.org]

Re:The Space Merchants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710814)

Argh you beat me to it! Do you know if there's a vending machine with some Coffiest around here?

Will it reach the right demographic? (1)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710784)

One wonders how effective this will be in a world filled with iPods. I see a stunning percentage of people wearing earbuds or bluetooth headsets in downtown public spaces. This is partly to counteract the noise of the city, and partly because I think it makes people feel safer and more connected to be able to walk through a crowd of strangers listening to their own personal soundtrack.

I get the feeling that the general response to this kind of invasive advertising will be, "Man, that's creepy and makes my skin crawl." The only advertisers who might want that kind of reaction are horror movie producers or skin cream manufacturers. :)

Re:Will it reach the right demographic? (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711042)

Those people with bluetooth headsets (normally middled aged balding men) aren't actually on the phone. They're just trying to look cool. Instead they look like some kind of sad cyborg.

People are the problem (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710790)

What if we eventually can't distinguish sonic narrow-beam advertising from mental illness? Why does being around other people increasingly mean you're raped 24x7?

Car Accident Lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21710800)

This will work great when I sue them after I'm driving all calmly and suddenly, without notice, get the sh*t scared out of me by this and swirve and cause a huge accident.

Nothing nefarious my tookus (5, Insightful)

LoadWB (592248) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710804)

"The sound isn't rattling your skull, it's not penetrating you, it's not doing anything nefarious at all. It's just like having a flashlight vs. a light bulb," he said.


It is penetrating my space purposefully and unavoidably to sell me a product that I do not want. And even if I *did* want it, I will no longer thanks to this intrusive form of advertising. And yes, it is like a flashlight: directly in my eyes from which I cannot turn away.

No no no no no. Direct audio advertising like this is a Bad Thing(tm).

Re:Nothing nefarious my tookus (1)

Radish03 (248960) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711348)

In addition to invading personal space, couldn't these also violate sound ordinances? I know in my area, there's a 50 foot rule: if the police can hear you from 50 feet away, they can issue you a ticket. From the summary, the speaker is on the 7th floor. Even beamed straight down, thats definitely more than 50 feet.

It works and it's freaky (5, Informative)

Stochastism (1040102) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710862)

I was involved in a university experiment with this technology. It's very difficult to make it work well, so, all privacy annoyances aside, I'm deeply impressed on a technical level.

It's really freaky when someone waves these ultrasonic speakers around and the sound washes over you like a spotlight. But in our experiments the sound was really tinny, just like a paranoid voice in your head ;)

Re:It works and it's freaky (1)

dvonhand (1136711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711230)

just like a paranoid voice in your head
Which one?

captcha: overseer

Re:It works and it's freaky (2, Funny)

Ralph Yarro (704772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711312)

But in our experiments the sound was really tinny, just like a paranoid voice in your head ;)
The voices in my head aren't "paranoid", they're just cautious. And they want to know how YOU can tell they sound tinny.

1984 called... (1)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710900)

They want their Ministry of Information back!

Millenials are already prepared.. (1)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710924)

we just wear our Ipod headphones all day.. so it won't work on us! Muhahahha!

And then there was spam... (1)

uberphear (984901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710932)

Vee one at gee vertical bar two ay! Pee three nis hundred time larger!!

Hearing Voices In Your Head? (1)

theskunkmonkey (839144) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710938)

Who said that?

"Hearing voices in your head? Big Pharma has just the answer, Nonoidizan. See your Doctor today!"

While we're at it... (1)

websitebroke (996163) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710960)

... not only ban these things out of existence, but get rid of billboards too. They've been ruining perfectly good landscapes for years now.

Re:While we're at it... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711076)

Perfectly good landscapes.. next to a freeway.. in a populated area. Right....

Louder than an mp3 player? (2, Insightful)

jb68321 (1123905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710962)

I hardly ever see someone my age walking around with bare ears--nearly everyone listens to music while walking. So are these directed sounds going to be loud enough to cover the rap and rock that most young people listen to?

And then there are those wonderful Bose noise-canceling headphones (though they DO allow most human voices to go through). Hopefully those will keep the ads away. If not, I'm sure these ridiculous ads will spur a new line of headphones that specifically -make sure- that the ads stay out of your ears. Sound is much easier to block than...say...billboards/other visuals.

How many people really believe ads anyways? Are they REALLY that effective? I can see a few ads here and there... but the more intrusive ones really just turn me off to the company. I know I'll make a point never to buy a product that gets injected into my ears.

Actually, that's probably the best way to get these ads off the street: just tell everyone who complains about the ad to stop buying the product. Eventually, the news will filter up, and other marketing agencies (hopefully) will learn that it's not even worth implementing. Until then, noise canceling headphones + music for me.

Behold, a rant! (1)

carpe_noctem (457178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710984)

Forgive me in advance, for the rant that shall follow. :)

So yeah, this topic seems to have been getting bounced around for years, and sooner or later, it seems inevitable that the technology will finally make its way into our culture. As regrettable as that is, I must also say that I really only see it as an extension of our already annoying and invasive society. Much more primitive technologies already exist, but since they have become a part of our collective consciousness, few people object to them. A most obvious example is loudspeakers; with those annoying fucks yelling out prices or other offers on the sidewalk (I have noticed this practice is more prevalent in some countries than others). A more subtle example would be billboards; which at this point cover virtually all of the landscape that people associate with "civilization". Yet, nobody really objects to these practices, with a few notable exceptions.

One could make the argument that the difference between the two is that one is beamed in your head, and the other surrounds it. In the case of the latter, it is possible, with an extreme degree of vigilance, to avert one's eyes from every objectionable sign cluttering the landscape. Perhaps the difference lies only in the fact that people feel somehow targeted, and therefore violated, when the advertising is being transmitted directly to them, rather than broadcast to everybody. Frankly, I also find this development disgusting, though only because it is the natural progression of a society driven by pop culture and material goods.

And in related news... (1)

maiden_taiwan (516943) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710988)

...ad agency Neurotronics has developed a new means of getting consumer's attention: bashing them in the skull with a sledgehammer. "There's going to be a certain population sensitive to it," says CEO Gary Krane, "But once people see what it does and feel it for themselves, they'll see it's effective for getting attention."

Target competitors (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710992)

"Very expensive" "Rip you off" "90% profit margin" "Unreliable"

Etc etc.

FUD works wonders.

 

I will boycott every company that uses this (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711000)

I don't like this way of advertising one's product, so I'm voting with my euros and I am going to not buy anything from companies that I know are using this advertising method, as far as it is practical and possible.

if it's ok for the advertisers... (1)

qw0ntum (831414) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711028)

If it's ok for the advertisers to hit me with a concentrated beam of sound energy, then it's ok for me to hit the advertiser's speaker with a concentrated beam of kinetic energy, [wikimedia.org] right?

The Right to Bear Arms (1)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711032)

This is why we have the right to bear arms. "Come to Bob's Car Mart, where-" BLAM! Of course we'll also get, "You've won 1,000,000 dollars in the Pepsi Sweepstakes! Just send a security check for $500 to: Mpondo Dwhaliki..."

Bad development (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711036)

This is a really bad development. Already people are far too self-absorbed, listening to a personal stereo whenever they're out and about. Crap like this will only make more people start listening to loud music as another way of escapism. And you wonder why people are anti-social ... Right.

If you want me to buy a product, advertising it in ways like this isn't going to accomplish that. In fact, it'll accomplish the exact opposite.

double edge sword (1)

m1ndrape (971736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711038)

How effective is this against folks who are hard of hearing? It would just already clog up their wetware tubes for hearing.
  Does it interfere with normal operation of hearing aids? What's the liability for bringing pain to those considered to have golden ears?

3 out of 4 voices in my head.... (1)

InterestingX (930362) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711056)

...tell me this is a good idea. Should I believe them?

i live in times square (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711058)

it seems like a lot of the comments here are being made by people living in red lodge montana

folks: the place is one giant cacophony of noise and colors

frankly, i'd appreciate it if could all be squelched out and some sexy female voice was isolated in my head. i would even talk back to her, as if that behavior would stand out, what with all of the schizophrenics and suits with blue tooth headsets walking around

she wants to sell me life insurance? ok. like i said, i live in times square, and used to work at the world trade center until 9/11/01. i probably need it

Re:i live in times square (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711270)

Those of us who live in places like Red Lodge, Montana don't want the hell of New York City to come to us. Once these things become cheap, you think they won't start putting them in other places? Heck, if they can focus the beam well enough they might start zapping people from low-flying drones.:)

I forsee a market for a new product (1)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711080)

Something like the AGM-88 HARM, except smaller and it goes after emitters of sound waves.

Easy countermeasure. (1)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711094)

Mp3 player, simple as that.

also, wouldn't this count as noise nuisance, if I played music out of a seventh story city centre window that people could hear at street level, the cops would come and tell me to turn it down, just cos it's in a small area why should the law not apply?

Countermeasures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711126)

What kind of countermeasures might one take? In other words, is it possible to prevent you from having to hear that crap?

The physics of the matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21711144)

The article talks about a speaker ... as in one speaker. I think there's more to it than that. Generally, to focus energy requires a structure at least several times as big as the wavelength of the energy. The more you want to focus the energy, the bigger your antenna, lens or whatever. If I wanted to direct sound energy, I would probably use an array of speakers a la sonar. That way you get a large aperture and can focus the energy fairly sharply.

The other thing is that you almost always get side lobes. The big guy in the fifth floor apartment across the street is going to really hate your guts because he can hear it from his bedroom 24/7. If he ever finds you ...

Without your permission? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711160)

Please! Then let's arrest everybody for honking their horns or even talking within earshot.

Arms (1)

RalphSleigh (899929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711206)

This has got to the be the first time your sacred right to bear arms makes any sense..

Back-to-the-Future quote (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711286)

"But the damned shark still looks fake."

how? (1)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711294)

yeah yeah, horrible thing nobody should do that.

But it's neat, how does it work?

in other examples.... (4, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711320)

... you are shopping in a grocery store and as you go down the aisle you pass by another and after you pass you hear them say something. You turn to ask them what it was they said to you and see their hands are either free or have some package from the shelf in them. They glance at you and continue on. You did not notice the blinking blue light near their ear.

You are standing in line to buy something and another comes up behind you in line and starts talking, you turn around an see they are on a cell phone. This doesn't stop them from standing behind you a foot away and talking really loud directed at the back you your head. All you hear is half a conversation. You mention it to them how annoying it is and they respond by saying they are not bothered by this act of theirs.

You are in city traffic the car in front of you misses a green light but you have a meeting to be at. At the next light you are cut off and again miss the light, getting out of teh city you seem to be constantly stuck behind a car driving 10-15miles an hour slower than the speed limit while traffic in the lanes next to you is speeding by faster than you are able to change lanes. and during all of this you notice in every case the person causing teh traffic interference is on a cell phone.

Now imagine walking down the city sidewalk and the person in front of you suddenly stops and you walk into them. Imagine walking down the sidewalk and you hear what sounds like someone talking to you and you turn to answer them and someone else walks into you. Imagine commercials where there are sirens, like the telephone or door bell commercials that fool you into answering the door or phone. Imagine having your car top down in the city and hearing such sounds.

Are there any other ways to cause stress in our every day lives?

Invention of the year? (1)

sYkSh0n3 (722238) | more than 6 years ago | (#21711326)

Didn't the guy who figured out this technology, win invention of the year either last year or year before?

They had talked about using it in grocery stores, so that as you looked at items it would tell you what the specials were on just the products in front of you.

I can't remember where i read that. I may have dreamed it. Can somebody confirm that i'm not totally crazy?
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