Personalized advertising system creates illusion of a passer-by’s reflection

[From Gizmodo UK (formerly via Humans Invent), “in partnership with Sharp”]

Sharp's personalized ad system

[Image: It’s possible with the software to predict the audience at adapt content to suit.]

Tailored advertising that stops you in your tracks

By Leo Kent
11th February 2013

As we become ever numb to traditional forms of advertising it is growing increasingly important for companies to incorporate new technology into their campaigns to excite and captivate their intended audience.

At the ISE trade show in Amsterdam this month, Sharp unveiled a rather clever new device that makes advertising a more personalized experience and it is something that businesses could soon be snapping up in an attempt to engage the public.

Bespoke advertising

Using what Sharp is calling ‘eye-catching software’ on their digital advertising displays, it creates the illusion that a passer-by’s reflection can be seen in the image as they walk near or past it. On top of this, the displays are also able to understand the type of person approaching and choose an advert befitting to his/her demographic.

First of all, they take a high quality image of the product, a wristwatch let’s say, which has been rendered by a 3D software package. This gives the product subtle textures to make it look more life like.

A camera is also hooked up to the display, which detects a person’s movements as they pass by. Graham Jones, Research Manager at Sharp Laboratories of Europe, says, “When somebody walks past, they see the picture on the screen change, effectively following their motion past it. This happens because we are adding reflections from the real world.”


This type of reflective digital sign could be used in several contexts, from bus stops to trade shows. Jones gives but one example, “You might want to use it in a car showroom to produce a really high quality image of a car. You can add more realism by reflecting the person who is standing in front of the screen looking at it to make it feel as if that person is standing in front of a real model.”

What is clever about this technology is that the type of reflection differs in response to the kind of ‘material’ that it is reflecting off.

Jones says, “You can get really subtle material effects. So, taking the leather on a shoe for example: you don’t see your face shining out from the shoe but you get the kind of subtle effect where the lighting changes as you move past.”

The software that allows the sign to detect the type of person walking past and display a product that is relevant to him/her was recently incorporated in time for ISE trade show.

Jones says, “We linked it up with the Intel AIM audience analytics software. This lets us look at the people viewing the screen and identify their age and gender to reasonable accuracy so we can then tailor the image we have put on the screen.”

He continues, “If we are being stereotypical, say we see a young male in front of the screen we might put up a nice shiny sports car or if we see a young female we might put a nice pair of shoes. Very stereotypical, but you get the idea.”

The contents themselves are delivered using Sharp Digital Signage Software (SDSS), which is packaged in to one of Sharp’s new PC controllers based on i7 core architecture.

Predicting the audience

Currently, the AIM suite has 8 categories in total that it can use to distinguish the type of person that is standing in front of the advert, including four age categories.  It also has the ability to retain statistics about the type of people who have walked past the screen.

Jones says, “By using the history of the people who have gone past, it will be possible to predict the audience at any given time, so you can prepare particular content beforehand.”

For those concerned about the invasion of their privacy, this type of advertising identifies information that you would be largely happy to express in the outside world such as your gender and approximate age. No personal information or actual images are ever saved.


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