W3C

Web walls, digital signage and personalized content

There is increasing interest in multiscreen applications, and this is featured in the latest webinos video on multiplayer games. In the office, we are used to having to plug our personal computers into the room’s projector, but perhaps these days are numbered. It should be easy to have web applications that run across multiple devices so that you can run your presentation from your smart phone or tablet and view it on the wall screen, with no need for video cables at all. One aspect of this is how your mobile device discovers the wall screen. This is now in active development in the W3C Device APIs Working Group.

Large displays in public spaces are often used for Digital Signage, and this was the subject of a break out session in TPAC2011. One challenge is how to provide personalized content for public displays. This was brought into focus by the film Minority Report, and has made it into reality with road side billboards that recognize car number plates. The long range infrared laser iris scanning technology in Minority Report is a little scary, but another possibility is to use face recognition together with pico cells. This identifies the set of people nearby based upon the mobile phones they are carrying, and by limiting the number of people increases the chances of successful face recognition. Bluetooth and WiFi MAC addresses offer further alternatives. Social networks and photo sharing sites already have our photos and profiles, so this would be a direct extension to their advertising based business model.

A final piece in the jigsaw is enabling the displays to target multiple passersby with personalized content. The emergence of 3D displays is pointing the way to a future where the content you see is based upon your position relative to the display, and determined by the face recognition software acting on the camera feeds for the display. By this point, you are probably getting increasingly concerned over privacy. Luckily, W3C is on the job with the Tracking Protection Working Group allowing you to opt out of personalized ads, whether on a conventional web page or a public display in the airport.

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    “W3C is on the job with the Tracking Protection Working Group allowing you to opt out of personalized ads, whether on a conventional web page or a public display in the airport.”

    Pun intended I guess. But that is not true. :)

    The Tracking Protection Working Group is working on the definition of a syntax for an HTTP header “DNT” and the meaning of this header. When the user has selected the HTTP header “DNT: 1″, he/she is expressing that he/she is wishing to not be tracked. It doesn’t mean at all an opt-out. It is for now a preference expression.

    The second document will define what it means for data aggregators and ads industries to conform to this kind of header, but only companies willing to conform will change their tracking practices (still to be defined).

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