Bluetooth Based Advertising

It’s not often that I find myself in a position of rooting against a technology, but this could be one of those situations.

Bluetooth Advertising: Businesses install a bluetooth radio at their location such as a store within a mall. If you happen to walk by with a Bluetooth enabled device, such as a cell phone, you’re asked if you’d like to receive a message.

Here’s how it works.

First, I enabled Bluetooth on my Treo since it’s a bit of a battery hog to keep running all the time:

Enabling Bluetooth

Once enabled, I received a message asking me if I’d like to “Receive Media into Pics & Videos”:

Accept an Image

That’s a fairly cryptic message, but I think that’s my Treo’s fault. For example, it doesn’t say who I’ll be receiving the file from, which is pretty scary. My phone doesn’t like to sleep with people it hasn’t met.

I decided to accept the file, which caused this image to pop onto my screen:

Bluetooth Delivered Advertisement

That image could be an ad, an offer, etc. It’s up to the business to decide.

As this technology exists today, I think there are quite a few problems that need to be resolved.

First, it’s intrusive. Just because my Bluetooth is turned on doesn’t mean I’m interested in receiving advertisements. It may just be because I’m using a headset. I don’t want to be put in a position where I have to actively decline messages.

Second, I’m receiving files onto one of my most valuable communications device, which will end up being synced back onto my computer. I’m going to think long and hard before getting into the habit of accepting images that could contain viruses.

On the plus side:

Hyper-targeted advertising. Being able to advertise to people walking past your store sounds pretty awesome. And that could be valuable to many customers.

Other uses, such as pushing out promotions at concerts or trade shows, may work with some crowds.

It will be interesting to see if this technology catches on. I’m sure there are many uses for it that have not yet been discovered.

The implementation described above was by an Italian company called Proxima while demoing at CES last week. You can find more out about their products and case studies on their website.

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