One of my favourite bands from the early 1980s, New Order, are promoting their upcoming album, Waiting for the Sirens Call, (due to be launched this coming week) via Bluetooth. They are displaying, in the words of Engadget:
digital interactive posters offering song clips, ringtones and photos that can be beamed directly to fans’ cellphones. The posters use both infrared and Bluetooth to send the data directly to phones, bypassing network charges to fans or to the band’s label, and making New Order to first group to hand out free music clips direct to cellphones.
The service is, I believe, provided by a company called Hypertag which spells out its vision on its website: We have a vision that every advertising poster or marketing display will be tagged with a Hypertag. This will enable consumers to engage and interact with your brand. The company tried the tags out last November on London Transport posters that allowed users to get a phone number for safe travel information beamed direct to their mobile phones.
As Forrester Research points out: this innovative promotion underlines the opportunities that connected devices present; gives another (temporary) boost to the Bluetooth standard; and demonstrates that operators are continuing to struggle to drive network data traffic.
There’s an account of how well it works by Robert Price here, along with a picture. An interesting feature of this, and a reason why I don’t think this kind of thing will catch on, is in the message on the bottom of the poster: Please be vigilant when using your mobile phone in public places. For it to work via Bluetooth, you have to stand near the poster and switch Bluetooth on. Then you’ll get a message asking if you want to receive an incoming Bluetooth connection. Say yes and you get the ringtone, but you don’t need to be Bruce Schneier to figure out how this could be abused.
Bluetooth seems like a good way of doing this kind of thing, but the security implications are stronger than the commercial benefits, I believe. Set your Bluetooth to ‘always available’ at your peril.