Encountering the future over an omelette

Posted August 5, 2010 in ephemera  |  1 Comment so far

Yesterday I was in the Workers Café on Upper Street eating an omelette, when I encountered the future. Or at least it felt like the future, for a couple of seconds anyway.

The café has a TV on the wall which shows Sky News, whose stream of “breaking news” is regularly interrupted by ad breaks. It was during these ad breaks that I had my brush with the world of tomorrow.

My eye was lazily watching the screen when an advert appeared for the Samsung Galaxy S, a new Android-powered mobile phone. The usual stuff happened – the phone was lit in an appealing fashion, it spun around invitingly, a disembodied hand did things with the screen.

One of the things the disembodied hand did during the advert was open up Google Maps. And in Google Maps, the street being shown was the street I was actually on – “The A1, Upper Street”.

But I didn’t think, “what a strange coincidence”. Instead my first reaction was to assume that the advert was somehow geo-targeted, dynamically displaying the TV’s location on the phone’s screen.

A second later however I realised that while this might be technically possible today it’s unlikely that a greasy spoon café, however venerable, is equipped with that sort of kit. It’s also unlikely that something as expensive as dynamically geo-targeted video would be used so casually, to show a particular street on a phone’s screen for around half a second on a daytime TV advert.

The feeling I was left with was a strange one. My initial, subconscious assumption was that the ad was geo-targeted rather than that an unlikely coincidence had taken place, so I was a bit disappointed when I realised I was expecting too much from the cafés TV and Sky’s ad platform.

So what looked like the future turned out to be a false positive. The ad break ended, Sky News went back to its gentle newsy clamour, and I went back to my omelette.

1 comment so far.  Post a comment

  1. Lindsey
    August 6, 2010 at 10:19 am [ Permalink

    It’s true! Sky are developing/have developed the ability to geo-target off the sky box itself!!

    Some of my for colleagues have been on that project for a while.

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