Japanese scientists have developed an interactive billboard that responds to a kiss from a viewer and could become the future of advertising.
Researchers at Tokyo's Keio University recently showcased the technology -- which they say is remarkably simple -- and anticipate further enhancements that permit these commercials of the near-future to deliver smells, tastes and even "speak" to an individual user.
The system works by linking an ultrasound sensor to a screen that, for the purposes of the team's research to date, depicts an attractive young woman.
As a person approaches the screen, the movement is detected by the sensor, which instructs the image of the woman to respond and prepare to give a kiss.
Once the lips have locked and the person moves away from the screen, the sensor is able to detect the movement and instruct the human image on the screen to respond once again, this time by blushing.
"I am a big fan of pop idols and I have posters of them in my room," Keidai Ogawa, one of the researchers behind the project, told Diginfo.tv in a video that can be seen at
. "It bugged me that the posters didn't move at all.
"We built this system because we thought that if a poster could move to match people's movements, that would be interactive and fun."
Development to date has been limited to visual changes, Ogawa said, but discussions with people who have tested the system have led them to examine possible new areas that can be explored in future versions.
"We could also include the scent of shampoo from the person's hair, or a lemon-flavoured film on the lips, or a speaker that whispers 'I love you'," Ogawa added.
The researchers are planning to develop an iPad application for the technology and are examining alternative methods of sensing the user approaching the screen. One possible approach would be to use image recognition via the camera, while they are also considering using a light sensor that reacts to the shadows that are created when a user approaches.
"We think we could get pop idols to actually pose for this and sell it as an application, or it could be used in digital signage," Ogawa said.
"I think people would be really attracted by a face that gives them a kiss as they walk past."