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Toshiba recently unveiled a prototype signage system for storefronts that personally communicates with the smartphones of passers-by.
Through low-energy Bluetooth technology, the system emits a beacon signal that pings shoppers’ mobile devices as they pass by. Once connected, the system turns the smartphone into a kind of remote control that interacts with information on screen and can be used to obtain coupons and special deals.
The best part? Multiple shoppers can interact with the system at the same time—a necessary feature for just about any commercial application. The billboard that emits the Bluetooth signal generates a color-coded button on a customer’s phone, which is then linked to one of several icons on the billboard. The color system indicates the syncing of the two devices.
When the system is being operated by multiple users, the color of the button and icon change from shopper to shopper. Customers can also upload data from their devices to the system. For example, according to Tech-On, an employee can take a picture of a new product and quickly show it in on the billboard system for shoppers to see.
Okay, so it’s not quite the augmented reality system depicted in Minority Report, but it’s certainly heading in that direction. Sometimes it seems like engineers are just following a blueprint laid out by that movie, which makes sense given that so many of its ideas came from so-called futurists.
Even more reminiscent of Minority Report is rehabstudio’s Adaptive Storefront concept, which was created for PSFK's Future of Retail Report. In this iteration, shoppers don’t even need to remove their phone; the billboard pings their smartphone, harnesses personal data (sort of creepy), and then renders a personalized UI on the shop window. Pretty neat, but still far from hitting the market.