Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You Think Ads Are Bad Now?

There's an episode of Futurama where Fry has an ad for LightSpeed Briefs beamed into his head. He's appalled:

Leela: Didn't you have ads in the 21st century?

Fry: Well sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio, and in magazines, and movies, and at ball games... and on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts, and bananas and written on the sky. But not in dreams, no siree.
Looks like we won't have to wait for 3000 to get that treatment:
Trolling down the street in Manhattan, I suddenly hear a woman's voice.

'Who's there? Who's there?' she whispers. I look around but can't figure out where it's coming from. It seems to emanate from inside my skull.

Was I going nuts? Nope. I had simply encountered a new advertising medium: hypersonic sound. It broadcasts audio in a focused beam, so that only a person standing directly in its path hears the message. In this case, the cable channel A&E was using the technology to promote a show about, naturally, the paranormal.

I'm a geek, so my first reaction was, 'Cool!' But it also felt creepy.
Creepy is only the beginning. As the Wired article points out, the question of whether we have any right to privacy in our own mind will be a critical question in the coming decades.

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