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Advertising screen tailors ads to its audience

A smart advertising display that monitors Bluetooth gadgets in its vicinity and then sends only the most appropriate adverts to the handset and minimises repeats to prevent recipients being put off.

The display detects the presence of devices fitted with Bluetooth wireless transmitters carried by people walking past, such as cellphones and PDAs. Software agents then “bid” against one another to determine which adverts are then shown to those viewers.

A prototype system called BluScreen has been installed in a corridor in the school of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton University. The 58-centimetre-wide screen displays a mix of alerts about upcoming seminars, news items from the university's website and video streams of departmental lectures.

As each passing device has a unique Bluetooth signal, this enables the screen to identify different individuals passing by. It builds a record of the adverts those people have been previously been shown to make sure messages are not repeated.