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Sky Deutschland campaign will pipe ads straight into train passengers' skulls

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Sky Deutschland, the German wing of TV provider Sky, is testing a marketing concept that may be pure evil genius, or possibly just pure evil. The BBC and others report that Sky Deutschland and advertising company BBDO have tested a concept that would pipe messages directly into the heads of people who try to rest or sleep against train windows. The idea, which was first unveiled at the advertising-focused Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in late June, is known as the Talking Window. It uses bone conduction like that found in headphones, hearing aids, and Google Glass to send vibrations through a window.

When a commuter leans against the window, he or she will hear a message that nobody else can, asking if they're bored and want to download Sky's mobile app. BBDO has said that if Sky Deutschland gives final approval, "we will start with the new medium as quickly as possible," but even it seems to implicitly recognize that this is bound to irk some people. A promotional video notes that the subjects will be "tired commuters" who want to rest, and people in the ad display emotions ranging from curiosity to open annoyance.

A spokesperson also said, however, that tests in Munich and Aachen had been received well, and that there were applications besides pure advertising. It could also, he said, give people public transit updates, weather, or music, though Sky says it hasn't yet decided whether to run the ad campaign. Fortunately for this reporter and commuter, if the technology ends up in common use, BBDO says it's not planning on expanding outside Germany any time soon.