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Beamed Sonic Advertising Is Coming 396

Posted by kdawson
from the told-you-i-was-hearing-voices dept.
newtley writes in with a story from Ad Age a few days back. "Advertisers are determined to get into your head by one means or another, and Holosonic Research Labs has found yet another way of invading your privacy in the name of forcing you pay attention. You're walking down a street in New York when all of a sudden, a woman's voice whispers 'Who's that? Who's There?' No, you weren't having a psychotic episode; you were being subjected without your permission to 'sound in a narrow beam, just like light.' It was coming at you from a rooftop speaker seven stories up."
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Beamed Sonic Advertising Is Coming

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  • Pandora's box (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Saturday December 15, 2007 @02:58PM (#21710646) Homepage Journal
    It makes one wonder about the concept of graffit... The process (usually illegal) of drawing symbols, images or words on private or public surfaces without permission. This really, is the process of using sonic graffiti that I can imagine would be readily open to hacking, sonic tagging and sonic vandalism. Of course this opens up all sorts of questions as well: What sorts of messages are appropriate to beam into someone's awareness? What about inappropriate messages? How about unintended consequences when someone with paranoid schizophrenia encounters these messages? What are the legal implications if someone else targets the same area with a different sonic message than the one intended by the advertiser?

    Personally, I find this advertising practice offensive and a little ignorant of where the possibilities may lead to. Furthermore, I am disappointed that A&E television would engage in this sort of thing, but A&E has been sliding down the slippery slope into crass, base appeal lately, attempting to go for shock factor at the expense of cultural sophistication. Back on topic: Would the advertiser consider it offensive if their message was sonically blocked via interfering sound waves? Would they consider someone else beaming messages into the same "acoustic space" unfair competition? Would they consider it vandalism? What are the liabilities if in the very unlikely possibility, a paranoid schizophrenic were to become violent in response to such messages? (note: only a very small percentage of paranoid schizophrenic patients are outwardly violent)

    If I lived in NYC, this would be a call to me for a little social experimentation with A&Es advertising campaign. But beyond that, think about the possibilities for social filtering, or even the surreptitious delivery of information, allowing the legal (or illegal) routing of people, goods and supplies via temporally discrete windows of sonic delivery.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:19PM (#21710868)
      Imagine if a group of atheists put one of these devices near the entrance to a church. They could beam messages to the congregation as they enter and leave the church. Imagine the outburst that messages such as, "This is God. Intelligent Design is for retards." and "This is God. I know you touch yourself." would lead to!

    • It gets to be more fun when they're paying attention to _who_ their beaming the sound at.
  • by foobsr (693224) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @02:58PM (#21710652) Homepage Journal
    ... I could imagine that this advancement of the 'art of advertising' could do some harm to people that are not so stable.

    CC.
    • by garcia (6573) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:03PM (#21710696)
      ... I could imagine that this advancement of the 'art of advertising' could do some harm to people that are not so stable.

      I'm stable, as far as I know, and it might just cause me to fucking kill someone if I happen to hear it. Thus, I'm not so certain that it's limited to those who have fragile psyches.
    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @04:05PM (#21711276)
      ... I could imagine that this advancement of the 'art of advertising' could do some harm to people that are not so stable.

      Yeah, these technologies ARE pretty obnoxious. All day long when I walk up and down the street, I'm getting voices in my ear and they just won't stop. I've got Safeway telling me about specials in their frozen foods section. Starbucks is telling me to buy their Cappucino. And Home Depot is constantly telling me that I've got to get a high powered rifle and take out the governor's dog so I can impress Jodi Foster, and do it NOW, NOW, NOW! And I've TRIED to make them stop, but no matter how many home improvement projects I start, Home Depot just will not relent!

      It got so bad that until I read this story, I was beginning to doubt my own sanity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reziac (43301) *
      Or how about if it interferes with a blind person's navigation-by-sound? Or with a service dog who interprets it as a command, or as a threat to avoid? how long before it gets someone killed?

      As someone else points out, this is the sonic equivalent of having a penlight beamed into your eyes, with no ability to look away.

  • by jcr (53032)
    I doubt I'll hear it. I usually have my iPod on when I'm walking around outside.

    -jcr
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:00PM (#21710670)
    ...for me if I encounter a device like this, is to leave and come back with a baseball bat and trash the device into pieces. This measure is clearly an invasion of privacy if I'm generous and assault if not so generous. I do not want to be bombarded by forced mind control that is advertising.
    • by witte (681163)
      Not that I'd get violent, but the idea to trash the device would certainly cross my mind :)
      It's bad enough that every free square meter is plastered over with ads. They are usually butt-ugly and annoying. Buses, tv, billboards on buildings, products you buy, you name it. Always an ad trying to peddle some product I don't need.

      However, this tech could be used on the battlefield for transmitting orders over large distances if it can be fitted in a small portable format, bolted onto a troop transport, or somet
      • However, this tech could be used on the battlefield for transmitting orders over large distances if it can be fitted in a small portable format, bolted onto a troop transport, or something along those lines.

        I doubt it would be as effective as walkie-talkies and radios for communicating with your own troops. However, it might be really effective against enemy troops. Beaming propaganda straight into their heads would really freak people out.

        • by Reziac (43301) *
          Sonics are subject to waveform interference -- it wouldn't take much to counteract such beamed commands. However, I wonder if it might be useful *within* a tight-moving group, when radio silence is desirable?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088)
      baseball bat and trash the device into pieces.

      You will not use the bat, you will not use the bat, you will not...

           
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xaxa (988988)
      Wait until you have to wait 25 minutes (having just missed the previous bus) at 4am in light rain, under a bus shelter with an electronic advertisement that sings "118 118! 118 118! 118 118! 118 118!" constantly (it's a phone number). I can ignore a static image, I can ignore the adverts that rotate between 3 different posters, and I can ignore the LCD screens. But obnoxious singing at 4am? Yuk.

      (It was in London if anyone cares.)
  • by explosivejared (1186049) <.hagan.jared. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:02PM (#21710684)
    AHA! We all knew it. We saw it coming. They laughed at us yes... YES!! Well, now THEY'LL be the ones to laugh at... ahhhhahhhahahahahhahhahaa!

    Tinfoil hat brethren, I say we unite and add tinfoil earmuffs to the wardrobe. NAY!! The WHOLE wardrobe must be tinfoil. Only then will you be SAFE FROM THIS INVASION!!

    VINDICATION IS SO SWEET!!
    • by digitrev (989335)
      You kid, but the tinfoil hat producers in New York will see a sudden boom of increased traffic. That or else places that sell noise-cancelling headphones. Which of course will lead to accidents, which will then lead to lawsuits. Hope this company has a good legal department, they'll need it.
  • by britneys 9th husband (741556) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:04PM (#21710712) Homepage Journal
    How long until everyone starts hearing THAT while walking down the street?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm not sure why your comment was modded 'funny' as opposed to 'insightful' -- because if it isn't stopped early, that /will/ be what happens in a few years or sooner. Best of all is the way the spokesperson justifies it: The sound isn't rattling your skull, it's not penetrating you, it's not doing anything nefarious at all. It's just like having a flashlight vs. a light bulb," he said.

      Yeah. Right. A 28,000 candlepower halogen flashlight [scientificsonline.com], shined right in my fucking eyes in the middle of a moonless nigh

  • Umm, there is NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY IN A PUBLIC LOCATION! Now that I have your attention, this is why anyone can videotape you walking down the street, record a vocal conversation on a street corner without your permission, etc.... When you are in public, you do not have any expectation of privacy.

    I hate the paranoia that creeps into slashdot....
    • by LoadWB (592248) *
      This really is not about privacy. If I am in public and an advertising in playing, I can generally avoid or ignore that ad. Having it beamed to my ear directly is a nuisance I cannot escape.
      • by bagboy (630125)
        I didn't say that the technique was proper nor if it was legal (IANAL). Just that slashdot's editors wrongfully labeled this as invasion of privacy - which it is not.
        • by phoenix321 (734987) * on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:35PM (#21711024)
          It surely is an invasion of privacy, and human dignity, by the way. Being watched and videotaped is a passive invasion of privacy and unavoidable from a public standpoint. Being blasted with shocking audio messages from an unclear source and sharply increasing intensity is active invasion of privacy and much much worse.

          Imagine someone screaming in your ear when you least expect it. Would you say "Hey, its in public, so go on, hurt my ears"?

          I don't think so. I hate advertising as the next guy, but this is certainly a step too far. It frightens, disorients or startles unsuspecting people, it disrupts talking, endangers bikers and motorists and may cause much more mayhem than I can think.

          This IS like yelling FIRE! in a crowded theater. If this is ruled as legally acceptable advertising, expect eye-safe lasers and strobos everywhere flashing directly into your eyes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pranadevil2k (687232)
      In this case, I'd be getting shot at by what is essentially a hi-tech megaphone from an unknown location by people I most likely can't see and don't know. Honestly I think this might go beyond the scope of privacy invasion and be considered a weapon. Hearing things out of nowhere is not only confusing, but disturbing; just walking along and suddenly I'm hearing an advertisement... I don't have braces, I shouldn't have to put up with that.
    • So I can shine a laser beam on you while you're walking down the street? It's about the same thing.
      • by bagboy (630125)
        yes-in fact, you can. As long as it does no harm to me and is not classified as an assault, it is no different than shining a flashlight in my direction.
        • I think what's really at question here is whether this could cause harm. How mentally unstable would a person have to be to start with for this to send them over the edge? What if it blocks someone's ability to hear someone/something coming up behind them and they're injured? Or you're driving, your window is down, and it blocks your ability to hear another car honking and leads to an accident?

          It's less like shining a flashlight in your direction and more like shining it directly into your eyes while you

          • It's less like shining a flashlight in your direction and more like shining it directly into your eyes while you walk down the street.

            Exactly my thought when I read "It's just like having a flashlight vs. a light bulb". Shining a light in my eyes is irritating and if you keep on doing it I will make you stop, by force if neccessary, which would either end up destroyed equipment or a (class action) lawsuit.
    • by Alaren (682568) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:15PM (#21710828)

      But one of the strongest arguments in favor of certain kinds of free speech is the "avert your eyes" principle. Certain semi-objectionable kinds of speech are permitted in public places because hey, if you don't like it, you don't have to look at it. If you don't want to listen to the street-preacher, fine, just walk away. But we will go ahead and tell said street preacher that he can't use a megaphone, for this very same reason.

      This "development" is just a very particularized way to create unavoidable sound--it's not "loud" in the traditional sense, but you might as well be walking past a loudspeaker. It's a nuisance and it's a violation of your right to be free from speech, even in a public place, because it circumvents the usual "avert your eyes" excuse. Local ordinances against this sort of thing would almost certainly pass Constitutional muster, so while I'm not generally in favor of more regulation, I'd encourage people to get laws against this sort of device passed in their respective communities.

      Though I am not a lawyer, and that is not legal advice, I am a law student and I did just finish a course in First Amendment law.

      • Couldn't you just walk away from this? I mean it's a stationary device pointing to one area. You could start avoiding the area entirely, discovering new routes around it. If business in the area decreases from people avoiding the billboard wouldn't that encourage them to remove it? I just don't see how this is (too much) different from if the billboard was shouting the same thing to everyone. It's just beaming it in a narrow column: just walk away. I guess the confusion comes from the Slashdot writeup tha
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Gyga (873992)
          You're right these are easy to avoid, let me just walk off the sidewalk onto the busy street full of stupid drivers that don't pay attention to avoid an advertisement.

          If these become popular the entire sidewalk will be filled. Heck I bet that if these work through cars then they will cover the road too. This is like littering, only harder to clean up. I suggest that people make a device like the noise canceling headphones that will beam an opposite sound wave onto the same spot.

          Imagine walking down th
    • You're right. Why so many posters here seem to think that this has something to do with privacy, I have no idea.

      While you don't have a right to privacy, you do have a right to a certain amount of quiet. Mostly this is ignored. Have you ever heard a car blaring music so loud that it's painful to you? That's actually illegal most places. It's noise pollution. You could actually get a ticket for that.

      Most noise pollution laws are targeted at unidirectional sound, and therefore cover a specific dB of soun
    • There are other concerns here than simple privacy. How about the fact that WE, THE PEOPLE, of these here UNITED STATES, do not want advertisers beaming auditory hallucinations into our heads? You may have the right to record me as I walk down a public street: but do you have to right to shove a speaker in my face to tell me how Geico can save me a bundle on my car insurance? You may ... I don't know how the law will respond to this. Conversely, I reserve the right to take that speaker from you and break it
  • In Soviet Russia, ...you speak into the mic?
  • Lightspeed briefs, style and comfort for the discriminating crotch!!
  • by n76lima (455808) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:09PM (#21710758)
    Many municipalities have ordinances against intentional noise, like the ones against overly loud Car Stereos. The local ones specify a number of feet from the source as the limit for hearing the sound.

    Targeted "sonic advertising" could be construed as noise pollution, even if it has a very small foot print.

    I am not keen to see a technology like this used to interrupt one's thoughts and concentration, particularly for commercial purposes.

    A possible "good" use for it might be at street crossings to warn pedestrians of changes in the traffic lights. I am sure that other uses for the public good could be found.

    --
    Sig: A model airplane company in Montezuma IA.
  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:09PM (#21710766)
    How much fun would it be to beam things at politicos speaking at rallies? Confuse them and make them say things they didn't mean?

    Or, by targeting the microphone itself, just speak directly to their audience?
    • How much fun would it be to beam things at politicos speaking at rallies? Confuse them and make them say things they didn't mean?

      I take it you haven't stayed long enough at those rallies to hear the campaign promises?
  • One wonders how effective this will be in a world filled with iPods. I see a stunning percentage of people wearing earbuds or bluetooth headsets in downtown public spaces. This is partly to counteract the noise of the city, and partly because I think it makes people feel safer and more connected to be able to walk through a crowd of strangers listening to their own personal soundtrack.

    I get the feeling that the general response to this kind of invasive advertising will be, "Man, that's creepy and makes my

    • Those people with bluetooth headsets (normally middled aged balding men) aren't actually on the phone. They're just trying to look cool. Instead they look like some kind of sad cyborg.
  • What if we eventually can't distinguish sonic narrow-beam advertising from mental illness? Why does being around other people increasingly mean you're raped 24x7?
  • by LoadWB (592248) * on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:12PM (#21710804) Journal

    "The sound isn't rattling your skull, it's not penetrating you, it's not doing anything nefarious at all. It's just like having a flashlight vs. a light bulb," he said.


    It is penetrating my space purposefully and unavoidably to sell me a product that I do not want. And even if I *did* want it, I will no longer thanks to this intrusive form of advertising. And yes, it is like a flashlight: directly in my eyes from which I cannot turn away.

    No no no no no. Direct audio advertising like this is a Bad Thing(tm).
    • by Radish03 (248960)
      In addition to invading personal space, couldn't these also violate sound ordinances? I know in my area, there's a 50 foot rule: if the police can hear you from 50 feet away, they can issue you a ticket. From the summary, the speaker is on the 7th floor. Even beamed straight down, thats definitely more than 50 feet.
  • by Stochastism (1040102) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:18PM (#21710862) Journal
    I was involved in a university experiment with this technology. It's very difficult to make it work well, so, all privacy annoyances aside, I'm deeply impressed on a technical level.

    It's really freaky when someone waves these ultrasonic speakers around and the sound washes over you like a spotlight. But in our experiments the sound was really tinny, just like a paranoid voice in your head ;)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Ralph Yarro (704772)

      But in our experiments the sound was really tinny, just like a paranoid voice in your head ;)
      The voices in my head aren't "paranoid", they're just cautious. And they want to know how YOU can tell they sound tinny.
  • we just wear our Ipod headphones all day.. so it won't work on us! Muhahahha!

  • I hardly ever see someone my age walking around with bare ears--nearly everyone listens to music while walking. So are these directed sounds going to be loud enough to cover the rap and rock that most young people listen to?

    And then there are those wonderful Bose noise-canceling headphones (though they DO allow most human voices to go through). Hopefully those will keep the ads away. If not, I'm sure these ridiculous ads will spur a new line of headphones that specifically -make sure- that the ads stay out
    • by gardyloo (512791)

      And then there are those wonderful Bose noise-canceling headphones (though they DO allow most human voices to go through). Hopefully those will keep the ads away. If not, I'm sure these ridiculous ads will spur a new line of headphones that specifically -make sure- that the ads stay out of your ears.

      The only thing that will work is something that will cancel normal sound, since that's all this is. So regular earplugs will be quite effective, but of course you'll have a hard time hearing other things.

      This is not a very new technology -- it's just high-frequency sound with a normal audio signal modulating it (the trick is to figure out the modulation properly). The air's nonlinearity downconverts it to a range which is audible to us.

      Now, if these advertiser

  • Forgive me in advance, for the rant that shall follow. :)

    So yeah, this topic seems to have been getting bounced around for years, and sooner or later, it seems inevitable that the technology will finally make its way into our culture. As regrettable as that is, I must also say that I really only see it as an extension of our already annoying and invasive society. Much more primitive technologies already exist, but since they have become a part of our collective consciousness, few people object to them. A
  • ...ad agency Neurotronics has developed a new means of getting consumer's attention: bashing them in the skull with a sledgehammer. "There's going to be a certain population sensitive to it," says CEO Gary Krane, "But once people see what it does and feel it for themselves, they'll see it's effective for getting attention."
  • "Very expensive" "Rip you off" "90% profit margin" "Unreliable"

    Etc etc.

    FUD works wonders.

     
  • I don't like this way of advertising one's product, so I'm voting with my euros and I am going to not buy anything from companies that I know are using this advertising method, as far as it is practical and possible.

  • If it's ok for the advertisers to hit me with a concentrated beam of sound energy, then it's ok for me to hit the advertiser's speaker with a concentrated beam of kinetic energy, [wikimedia.org] right?
  • it seems like a lot of the comments here are being made by people living in red lodge montana

    folks: the place is one giant cacophony of noise and colors

    frankly, i'd appreciate it if could all be squelched out and some sexy female voice was isolated in my head. i would even talk back to her, as if that behavior would stand out, what with all of the schizophrenics and suits with blue tooth headsets walking around

    she wants to sell me life insurance? ok. like i said, i live in times square, and used to work at
    • by belmolis (702863)

      Those of us who live in places like Red Lodge, Montana don't want the hell of New York City to come to us. Once these things become cheap, you think they won't start putting them in other places? Heck, if they can focus the beam well enough they might start zapping people from low-flying drones.:)

  • Mp3 player, simple as that.

    also, wouldn't this count as noise nuisance, if I played music out of a seventh story city centre window that people could hear at street level, the cops would come and tell me to turn it down, just cos it's in a small area why should the law not apply?
  • yeah yeah, horrible thing nobody should do that.

    But it's neat, how does it work?
  • by 3seas (184403) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @04:11PM (#21711320) Journal
    ... you are shopping in a grocery store and as you go down the aisle you pass by another and after you pass you hear them say something. You turn to ask them what it was they said to you and see their hands are either free or have some package from the shelf in them. They glance at you and continue on. You did not notice the blinking blue light near their ear.

    You are standing in line to buy something and another comes up behind you in line and starts talking, you turn around an see they are on a cell phone. This doesn't stop them from standing behind you a foot away and talking really loud directed at the back you your head. All you hear is half a conversation. You mention it to them how annoying it is and they respond by saying they are not bothered by this act of theirs.

    You are in city traffic the car in front of you misses a green light but you have a meeting to be at. At the next light you are cut off and again miss the light, getting out of teh city you seem to be constantly stuck behind a car driving 10-15miles an hour slower than the speed limit while traffic in the lanes next to you is speeding by faster than you are able to change lanes. and during all of this you notice in every case the person causing teh traffic interference is on a cell phone.

    Now imagine walking down the city sidewalk and the person in front of you suddenly stops and you walk into them. Imagine walking down the sidewalk and you hear what sounds like someone talking to you and you turn to answer them and someone else walks into you. Imagine commercials where there are sirens, like the telephone or door bell commercials that fool you into answering the door or phone. Imagine having your car top down in the city and hearing such sounds.

    Are there any other ways to cause stress in our every day lives?
  • Didn't the guy who figured out this technology, win invention of the year either last year or year before?

    They had talked about using it in grocery stores, so that as you looked at items it would tell you what the specials were on just the products in front of you.

    I can't remember where i read that. I may have dreamed it. Can somebody confirm that i'm not totally crazy?
  • People will start tuning out anything that isn't directed towards them. After I hear enough of this crap, like probably 1 minute's worth, I'm pretty much going to stop paying attention unless I hear my name. I give out fake names or made-up nicknames when registering for anything*, so even if they've got my name and figure out how to identify me with the device that's emitting the sound in the first place, they're still not going to get my attention. And am I really going to turn my iPod off? I've got m
  • The real problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damburger (981828) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @04:17PM (#21711388)

    Slashdotters find this concept deeply offensive, and thereby assume it must be an invasion of privacy because thats what normally rubs them up the wrong way. That isn't it though.

    The problem is the claiming of public space for private purposes. If there were advert booths where you walked in and got some marketing blasted at you, it wouldn't be so bad, but these pricks are polluting a public space for their own asinine purposes. No, it doesn't count as free speech because corporations are not people and therefore do not have such a right. Furthermore, it isn't a petition against the government, its an annoyance to individuals.

    Be aware of the concept of public space. Its vital to civilisation but is seen by the elites as merely space the private sector hasn't got a use for. Yet.

  • they may get inundatet with lawsuits for harassment.

    Hopefully, there will be a judge sentencing the idiots to a mandantory exposure to their crap in a prison cell for 3 hours daily. Or - even better, tied to a post on a pedestal on time square with a sign with their sentence cause around their neck.

    Isn't that whole commercial advertising shit turning into an automatic subconscious rejection of that particular product? Maybe some gene will get flipped in the next generations for just that.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @04:20PM (#21711418) Homepage
    It will solve itself, because intrusive ads don't work.

    Over the past few decades there's been an arms race to "cut through the clutter" with more and more novel, attention-grabbing, intrusive ads. They only work for a very short time. The first time you see an ad on a placard inside a supermarket cart, it grabs your attention. Then you tune it out. Lately the local supermarket have gone to putting ads on the floor, in some kind of tough plastic laminate. The first time you see it, it grabs your attention. Then you tune it out.

    A few years back, they had little discount-coupon vending machines hanging off the shelves, flashing bright LEDs at you. I notice they're gone now. They probably worked for a while, then people tuned them out.

    These will be a seven days' wonder, then advertisers will start studying the results, and I already know what they will find: the devices will be expensive to put in place, expensive to maintain, very effective for a short time at getting people to talk about the ads... and very ineffective at getting people to buy the product.

    What's the "unique selling proposition" here? What, exactly, is the difference between reading "Ask your dermatologist about Enbrel," hearing someone tell it to you on a TV set, or hearing it inside your head as you walk down the street?

    The unspoken assumption is that hearing the sound localized as coming from inside our heads will somehow turn it into a command hallucination and force us to obey. It won't. Not any more than "subliminal advertising" did. Not any more than using electronic echo effects, or making it sound like Darth Vader, or a "voice of God" echo effect would.
  • by Chryana (708485)
    FTA: "If you set up a loudspeaker on the top of a building, everybody's going to hear that noise. But if you're only directing that sound to a specific viewer, you're never going to hear a neighbor complaint from street vendors or pedestrians. The whole idea is to spare other people."

    What the interviewee is conveniently omitting to mention is that putting a loudspeaker to blare all day in the street would be obviously illegal, so nobody is being "spared", we're just being forced to listen to advertising whi
  • by morari (1080535) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @04:25PM (#21711462) Journal
    If you're in New York City, then you're already fucked.
  • This would be a great way to sell earplugs! Imagine the possibilities! For other products it might not be so good, such as hearing aids. You'd also be in trouble if your target audience was the deaf.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @04:46PM (#21711594) Homepage Journal
    It seems clear to me that noise laws that are currently described in terms of the dB level allowed on the street would have to be interpreted by a judge in terms of their effect on one's eardrum. So if these beamed messages appear to the listener's ear any different (eg. louder) than if they were played from a traditional speaker on the street, regardless of their power at the transmitter, then they'd be violating the law just as much as an obnoxious megaphone. Except that the beams would annoy only one person at a time, which would only mean that they wouldn't be as liable for "public nuisance" under those noise thresholds.

    So you could just sue them (if you could find them - the law really needs to require anyone doing this unsolicited to identify themselves with every message, like a traditional speaker does) under the existing noise complaint laws, if not harassment, etc. Of course, your lawyer would have to realize the physics of transmitted vs received sound power, but every lawyer reads Slashdot, right?
  • Futurama (Score:3, Funny)

    by momerath2003 (606823) * on Saturday December 15, 2007 @04:47PM (#21711612) Journal
    Leela: Didn't you have ads in the 20th century?

    Fry: Well, sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio. And in magazines and movies and at ball games and on buses and milk cartons and T-shirts and written in the sky. But not in dreams. No, sir-ee!

    (link) [futurama-madhouse.com.ar]
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @05:05PM (#21711746) Homepage Journal
    If they can annoy us, we have every right to take every measure within the law to annoy them.

    Stand outside their doors at opening and closing times and shout at their employees with megaphones. Helpful, inoffensive things, like looking both ways before crossing the street and buckling up while driving.

    Use public records to find out who is responsible for ad campaigns and beam audio at their children telling them to beg mom and dad for a pony.
  • by eples (239989) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @06:49PM (#21712548)
    IAANYCR (i am a nyc resident) and there's one outside my apartment. It's not 7 stories up, nor is it high tech. It's just an annoying speaker that goes off when you walk by.

    The funny thing is, I thought it was pretty stupid and so must have the high schoolers who hang out 20 feet from it each morning because they smashed the thing =) lol

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