Hearing voices that no one else can be a sure fire sign of mental illness. But, while it might sound like the stuff of science fiction, train commuters who start to hear someone talking inside their head may actually just be listening to a new ad campaign.
Sky has come up with a way to advertise to passengers through talking train windows.
Commuters who may be hoping to catch a little shut-eye by leaning their head against the train window will instead hear adverts, which appear to be coming from inside their head, telling them about the merits of downloading the Sky Go app.
No other passengers would be able to hear them because the plan involves the use of bone conduction technology – a technique which is currently used in hearing aids and headphones along with Google’s new Glass headset.
It passes sound straight to the inner ear by directing vibrations through the skull.
The innovative concept, which is being called the Talking Window campaign, has been developed by ad agency BBDO Germany for broadcaster Sky Deutschland, using audio created by a special Sky-branded transmitter made by Audiva attached to the windows.
Explaining the idea, Sky Deutschland and BBDO Germany said: “Tired commuters often rest their heads against windows. Suddenly a voice inside their head is talking to them. No one else can hear this message.”
Ulf Brychcy from BBDO said his firm is keen to launch the new medium as soon as possible. “Some people don’t like advertising in general,” he said. “But this is really a new technology. It might not only be used for advertising, but also for music, entertainment, mass transport information, weather reports and so on.”
But, while the new ad campaign is certainly a possibility, Sky Deutschland is yet to decide whether to roll it out.
And, if the response so far from potential travellers is anything to go by, Sky may wish to think long and hard before introducing what many see as a somewhat insidious campaign.
One says: “How disgusting! Subliminal advertising was banned in the sixties, surely this idea is illegal. And please stop plastering the (train) windows with ads too.”
While another adds: “It’s not April 1st is it? I cannot believe that such a technology could be seriously considered anywhere in the world, with the possible exception of North Korea.”
Other comments posted under a video showcasing the concept describe it as “a violation to a person’s right to rest,” while one even goes as far as to say: “I think I’d take a sledgehammer to the window.”
Many will be pleased to know that while presented at the Festival of Creativity in Cannes, the idea so far remains at the experimental stage.
BBDO Germany says it has already had a positive response to tests that placed prototype transmitters on public transport in Munich and Aache.
But we have a feeling Sky may be hearing voices too – those of many disgruntled commuters if they decide to go ahead with any such advertising campaign.