In what may be the first step towards a possible "nightmare scenario" where you can't walk around an urban area without your phone being deluged with spam, a French advertising firm has installed small transmitters on billboards and posters around Paris that offer downloads or discounts to passersby. Luckily the Bluetooth-based system being deployed by JCDecaux is strictly opt-in, meaning only those mobile users who want the swag-on-the-go will be bothered, and they can further limit intrusions by choosing to just receive ads about topics that interest them. Ironically, this commercial endeavor evolved out of a project by France's National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control to provide assistance for the disabled, but the project was scrapped and JCDecaux purchased the exclusive license for the underlying technology. The same team that worked on the government research is also developing another innovative fusion of advertising and cellphone, in the form of billboards called UbiBoards that change their displays based on characteristics of the majority of the people in the vicinity by pulling demographic data from their handsets.
, picture courtesy of Kameleon