Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Handhelds Media Hardware

Bluetooth Ads Beamed from Billboards 231

dylanduck writes "Billboards in the UK have been using Bluetooth to beam media clips at passing cellular phones. The system has been dubbed Bluecasting and 17,000 people accepted the ads. When billboards know your name that's when to really worry."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bluetooth Ads Beamed from Billboards

Comments Filter:
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by CmdrTaco (troll) ( 578383 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:45PM (#13375236) Homepage
    Hope someone hacks it and starts bluecasting goatse in its place.
    • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @09:06PM (#13376055) Homepage Journal
      find an old pda and have it 'bluecast' porn.

      Sit it next to a real coke bluecaster, and then half the time that people choose to "Accept connection from Coke?" they'll get the porn.

      Bluetooth doesn't have a whole lot of authentication other than the name that the other node chooses.

      It wont take many calls to a large companies complaint department about them dispatching porn before this whole dumb idea will go away.
  • by SirDrinksAlot ( 226001 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:46PM (#13375245) Journal
    Watch out, when someone figures out how to hack your bluetooth automatically, grab all your personal information and talor its advertisements accordingly, thats when I'm going to be afraid.
  • Now that's what I call radio interference.
    • They've been doing something like this at the Marshall Field's department store in downtown Chicago for a couple of years, but they use IR instead of Bluetooth. Look for a small sign on the Randolph Street side of the building near either the Bose or Yahoo! display window (I forget which).

      I haven't looked for it in a while, but I remember it being there as recently as April.
  • Great... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuppleMonkey ( 846625 ) * on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:47PM (#13375256)
    As if there weren't enough distracted drivers on the road. Now if people aren't yapping on their cell phones they'll be reading the myriad advertisements being beamed to them.
    • Re:Great... (Score:5, Informative)

      by AEton ( 654737 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @07:02PM (#13375362)
      These are billboards at railway stations.

      Funny how many comments got this wrong....
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 22, 2005 @08:11PM (#13375771)
        You must be new hear. Hmm, how about slashdot bluecasting TFA to someone as soon as they click on the summary, thus forcing everyone to RTFA before they post stupid comments?
      • These are billboards at railway stations.
        Funny how many comments got this wrong....

        1) Most posters are American
        2) Most Americans have never even *seen* a train station []
    • trials of the system were recently held at six London railway stations

      I imagine roadside billboards would not be used, it's bad enough in the US with intrusive bill boards on road sides.
    • Do we really need ads coming at us from everywhere? Is nothing sacred anymore? Now we also have to put up with advertising on billboards?!
  • In the US (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:47PM (#13375261)
    My name is double ROT13 encrypted. They can't use my name without violating the DMCA.
  • Thank you for travelling in the tube, Mr. Yakamoto. May we suggest some purchases for you?

  • With those kind of acceptance numbers, you can bet we are going to see much more of this type of advertising.

    Of course, how many /.'ers actually leave BT enabled on their phones/PDAs?

    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by karmatic ( 776420 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @08:30PM (#13375863)
      > Of course, how many /.'ers actually leave BT enabled on their phones/PDAs?

      Me, for one. I've even got it broadcasting my name, so if someone around me finds it, they know who it belongs to.

      I don't mind people saying "hi", in a matter of speaking. So far, it's been coworkers etc. who decide to send me files. When I start getting ads/spam on it, I will shut it off.
  • Sci-Fi (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bobsacks ( 784382 )
    This reminds me of Minority Report where the billboards were scanning peoples eyes and addressing them by name. Is this a case of life imitating art?
    • Re:Sci-Fi (Score:3, Funny)

      by tacarat ( 696339 )
      I'd vote for life irritating art...
    • Re:Sci-Fi (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bizard ( 691544 )
      You would have to look back a lot further than Minority Report if so...I know that Melissa Scott's novels from the late 80's/early 90's had this. People had wearable or implanted computers and news stands would blare headlines and billboards would blare advertisements. The main character in one novel was constantly avoiding eye contact with signs.
  • by joeldg ( 518249 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:50PM (#13375281) Homepage
    now we will have bluetooth spam everywhere we go..

    just what we need..

    • by freitasm ( 444970 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:55PM (#13375327) Homepage
      You an still have Bluetooth [On], just don't set it to [Discoverable]. What's the big deal?

      For goodness sake folks, just use the technology, it provides the tools for that.

      • Uhm, not entirely sure what the billboard is doing...but you don't have to be in "discoverable" mode for someone (or something) to "see" your signal and hack your phone.
      • The only major uses for Bluetooth in cell phones I've heard of are chatting on a wireless headset, syncing or file transfer with a computer, and the aforementioned bluespamming (or splue, to quote another comment). But I would guess that the "killer feature" for BT-enabled cell phones would be a localized IM-type service; i.e., you could make a list of your friends' BT MAC addresses in your phone, and get alerts when they are nearby (or at least near enough for your phone to detect them). Sort of a "hey, Bo
        • There is a company trying to sell some kind of bluetooth "meeting" program that does exactly what you're saying. I don't remember the program's name right now, but the idea is that you leave your device powered on and constantly "pinging" for other participants. You are supposed to use it to "notice" friends within range, or if you join the "public" channel you can hook up with random like-minded people. Kind of like a formalized way to do "toothing". And I don't think it requires you to be discoverable
  • by theblueprint ( 749157 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:50PM (#13375283)
    I'd be all for this, should the advertisers change it a little. If I could see a billboard, find the product interesting, then "ask" the billboard for more information, I'd probably use it.

    Otherwise, it's like a pop-up on your phone, asking if you'd like to see a pop-up ad.

  • by sled ( 10079 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:51PM (#13375289) Homepage
    I've beeing seeing lots of ads for products that whiten teeth lately, but but who in their right mind would want...oh wait, nevermind.
    • I've beeing seeing lots of ads for products that whiten teeth lately, but but who in their right mind would want...oh wait, nevermind.

      You just might be onto something there though... a tool that "de-BlueSpams" your phone, "whitening" your Bluetooth. Get it?

  • by fussili ( 720463 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:52PM (#13375303)
    However they have had interactive billboards on the Tube for some time.

    They concerned the use of unlicensed faux-minicabs to lure women into situations where they are abducted and often sexually abused.

    The billboards allowed you to align your phone's IR receiver with a flashing icon to receive information on how to better protect yourself if you happen to be a woman.

    I daresay Bluetooth seems rather more invasive as a means of delivering content - particularly commercial advertising rather than citizen's advice.
    • ... lure women into situations where they are abducted ... [t]he billboards allowed you to align your phone's IR receiver with a flashing icon to receive information on how to better protect yourself if you happen to be a woman.

      Personally, the women in my life have been taught how the align their sights to better protect themselves from such activities.

  • Most people don't get too many bluetooth messages on their devices so when something like this happens they say "okay" to accept and see what the ad is all about. After a while people will get sick of it though, and fewer and fewer will accept them.

    So this is good advertising.... for now... =)
  • by StreetChip ( 870758 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @06:55PM (#13375323) Homepage
    This is exactly the same idea as email spam, sending off an advertisement to as many people as you can whether they asked for it or not. Forcing the user to have to click 'no' to get rid of it. We shouldn't have to cripple technology (IE turn off features on the phone) just to avoid being bombarded with a commercial for Dominoes Pizza. At least with a normal billboard if I don't want to see the message I can look somewhere else. I wish I lived there with a mobile phone just to be the first one to file a lawsuit against the companies sending out these ads.
  • Let's send the signal thru giant antennas and it will be encoded with electromagnetic waves, using Amplitude and Frequency Modulation. The devices are so simple they don't require digital technology.

    With this, you can even choose with an analog dial, which emitters (let's call them "stations") to listen to the advertisers! Furthermore, why stop with advertising? Let's add content, like news or music, too!

    Forget about podcasting, bluecasting. The future is "wavecasting"! It'll rock!

    *Rushes to the patent office*
  • by herting ( 542478 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @07:03PM (#13375381) Homepage
    I was walking central London today when I got a message saying my mobile's bluetooth had an incoming message and asked if I wanted to accept it. Thinking I had finally found another toother, I quickly accepted thinking I was about to engage in depraved anonymous sex. Alas, 449 days of toothing in London and still no takers. Pretty soon I'm going to just assume bluetooth is a crap technology and just switch to raising the collars on my green polos.
  • Spam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CSHARP123 ( 904951 )
    We are having enough with Email spams. Now they want you get Cell phone Spams. Really, when this gets worse, people will stop using technology altogether.
    • We are having enough with Email spams. Now they want you get Cell phone Spams. Really, when this gets worse, people will stop using technology altogether.

      Exactly. Low tech is the wave of the future.

      In the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle, one of the most wired and tech neighborhoods, many of us no longer wear watches or carry cell phones, because they're a nuisance. We let loose the electronic leashes and savor the joy of life.

      And then we go home and use our wireless laptops and high-speed cable/DSL/intern
    • Re:Spam (Score:2, Funny)

      by fyoder ( 857358 )
      Really, when this gets worse, people will stop using technology altogether.

      Some may have stopped already. Those of you who have stopped using technology altogether please reply to this post so we can count you.

  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @07:08PM (#13375415) Homepage
    When billboards know your name that's when to really worry.

    Oh, I don't know. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. You want to be where you can see our troubles are all the same. You want to be where everybody knows your name.


  • by OpenGLFan ( 56206 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @07:11PM (#13375432) Homepage
    Nope, it hasn't been dubbed BlueCasting, except by marketing twits in Italian suits and advertising twerps in Emo glasses.

    The real world calls it SPAM. If you have to get trendy, BlueSpamming. Or if you want to get really wild, based on IM SPAM = SPIM, you get BLUE SPAM = SPLUE.

    We let them use Hacker for Cracker, and we let them take Digital Rights Management for Digital Restriction Mechanisms. We control the names, folks, not them. A dog does not lay bioreclaimable fertilizer on the path, it shits on the sidewalk. "BlueCasting" sounds like a neat 21st century hip thing. "Spam" is a nasty annoyance that Russians get beat to death for. Give it the correct name.
  • New technology (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yRabbit ( 625397 )
    Yes, of course. This is why we develop more advanced technologies, such as radio, the television, the internet, and bluetooth. We just want more ads! Thanks a lot.

    I wonder if, for some people, disabling their phone/device from being discovered via bluetooth will be a viable option? Maybe they need that enabled for something? Too bad there isn't a "DO NOT RECEIVE ADVERTISEMENTS" setting.
  • Thank God. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Saiyine ( 689367 )

    Thank God, bluetooth can be disabled.

    Dreamhost [] superb hosting.
    Kunowalls!!! [] Random sexy wallpapers.
  • Don't let Paris Hilton anywhere near England!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 22, 2005 @07:27PM (#13375538)
    So tell me, why would I ever want to own a phone with Bluetooth if they're doing this? They still make non-bluetooth phones and wired headsets? Right?

    (I pick up 75 wireless access points on my 12 mile commute through what I thought was the countryside - so I can't imagine what this "bluecasting" will be like once it takes off in cities).

    I can almost see the next step being advertisers pressuring phone makers to require always-on phones with always-on bluetooth so that they can't be "denied" the chance to spam your phone. You won't be able to switch the phone off, will only ever be able to switch to "silent mode" for a couple of hours at a time (like for going to a movie theater), and it'll automatically accept absolutely anything sent to it (and it'll simply keep the last 128MB [or however much storage the device has] of messages received). Just walking through the mall your phone will pick up 40 different advertising messages before you get to the store you wanted to go to - and when out driving, billboards and other cars will all repeatedly spam you.

    And worst of all, they'll advertise this as being a "feature" of the phone ("get always-on bluecast so you're not left out! all the cool kids have it.. and you want to be cool.. don't you?") - and people will still buy it.
    • So tell me, why would I ever want to own a phone with Bluetooth if they're doing this?

      Dunno. Why would you want an internet connection on your pc? Looks like phones are going the way of the average windows box, pretty soon 60% of its processing time will be spent on the firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware. Which leaves about 40% to animate that silly wallpaper. Every form of technology that allows communication will at one point or another be used for advertising. As long as advertising actually works, an
  • Couldn't get why only Billboards will send these bluetooth messages? It can be anything - a tree, a transport truck, a building, a shop - they are all going to torture you with these advertisements till you disable bluetooth or upgrade to "premium" service offered by well, your friendly wireless carrier!
  • FTA - "The posters detected 87,000 Bluetooth phones over a two week period, of which about 17% were willing to download the clip, says Scott."

    First 17% is more like 14,790. I couldn't find a reference to the 17,000 number. (Perhaps its somewhere on the corporate web site link.) But even ignoring this point I'd still question the "willing" statement. Does that mean people intentionlly enabled access to their cell phones. Or is it more like 17% of blue tooth cell phonesare left unsecured by their own

    • it means 17% of them wanted to see what the new ColdPlay album teaser/advert was, or were curious about this new form of spam.

      Yea, I'm shocked that so many people were interested in ColdPlay, too /duck

      In order to be detected, every single one of those 87k phones had their bluetooth enabled. 14k is the number who answered "Ok, send me the clip", I assume... a pretty high number. This has marketing dweebs wetting themselves, I'm sure.

    • I'd be willing provided it's a two way thing and I could first beam the senders my terms and conditions, including the charges for using my phone as their electronic billboard.
  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @07:43PM (#13375645) Journal
    I will not read Bluetooth Spam
    I will not read it, Sam I am.

    I will not read it in the tube,
    I will not read it even if it shows me a boob

    I will not read it in my car
    I will not read it in a bar

    I do not like Bluetooth spam
    I do not like it, Sam I am.
  • Hmm I wonder.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Boap ( 559344 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @07:50PM (#13375680)
    I wonder if a virus could be passed this way and if it could then you could have infected at least 17,000 people via blue tooth.
  • Over-marketing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rbgemini ( 837601 ) on Monday August 22, 2005 @08:10PM (#13375767)

    Is it possible to go anywhere or do anything these days without being advertised at? Seems you just can't get away from it anymore.

    In any case, if I'm standing on a train platform looking at a billboard, I can just read the damn billboard. What is the point of sending me a message to tell me about what's on the billboard?
  • Is it me, or is Blue Tooth (or BlueTooth, or whatever) becoming the Windows of wireless protocols? I don't have any blue tooth devices, but all I ever read about blue tooth is how it is used as a virus vector, and now a spam vector.
  • just wait till the day these ads scan your retina and mistakenly call you "Mr. Yamamoto".

  • Won't work in Canda (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ElectroBot ( 554775 )
    The big 2 cell phone providers are Rogers and Bell (there's others but they're a lot smaller). Neither of them have a cellphone that has bluetooth yet. BTW the Treo 650 and Blackberry devices do have bluetooth but they're just glorified PDAs with cell phone capability that costs an arm and a leg.

    I could buy a phone from the US and get it hacked, but why should I lose a warranty and pay a couple hundred dollars when I should be able to get one for FREE or close to it ($99 at most).

    How long has bluetooth b
    • Tom's Towtruck Service - 100 metres ahead.
    • Need legal defense against a fender-bender? Littal, Beig & Madiem, Attorneys.
    • Don't Move. iZap Ambulance can be here in 30 seconds.
    • Cellphone repair - 24 hours. Just roll down your window while you're stopped.
  • I'm sick of marketers encroaching into my personal space with their advertising. Putting ads on racecars or on the sides of their buildings is one thing, but when my email box is filled with spam, my fax machine is printing out pages I don't want, and my phone is receiving ads I don't want they're going too far.
  • I love the "Furthermore, there is no risk of downloading viruses or other malware to the phone, says O'Regan: "We don't send applications or executable code.""


    I find the whole notion of this distasteful. Billboards are bad enough. This is adding spam to them. I don't use Bluetooth now (see no real benefit from it really) and if enabling Bluetooth is going to subject me to spam, no thanks . . .

    But, considering in 2000 the hot marketing gimmick was to mount Palm Pilot's around metropolitan areas (
  • is that 17,000 people then went looking for a way to turn the @#$%^*()! Bluetooth pop-up cr@p off...
  • Never mind that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Tuesday August 23, 2005 @06:27AM (#13377981)
    Once biometrics take on, I daresay that it would be possible to pitch ads (a la The Minority Report) using facial recognition or even the smell of the person.

    Imagine being somewhere like a casino (where you can bet they already or will soon will use face recognition on everyone). Cameras could be positioned in certain places to automatically recognise a person and change all the machines and signs within the proximity to be more appealing.

    Hell, I bet a system could pitch different ads depending on whether a man, women, or kids were walking past based on their smell. For extra sophistication it could even detect BO & perfume as giveaways of the person's wealth and status.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!