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London’s Piccadilly Circus giant billboard will track passing cars to target ads

London’s iconic giant billboard screen in Piccadilly Circus could soon track passing cars in a bid to target adverts based on vehicle type and colour. 

The six screens that currently make up Piccadilly Circus’s billboard will soon be replaced by a giant single 790 square metre screen comprising 11 million pixels to take it beyond the 4K resolution.

Behind the display an array of cameras will track the make, model and colour of passing vehicles, which according to the screen’s provider Landsec, will allow custom pre-programmed triggers to display targeted adverts tailored to the type of car that passes by.

Sounding reminiscent of the ‘personal advertising’ seen in movie Minority Report, the likes of Samsung, Coca-Cola, L’Oriel and Hyundai have already signed up to advertise on the giant display. The screen will also offer the functionality of being divided into sections, allowing for multiple ads to be displayed as well as one huge advert.

“This screen can be electronically carved up as opposed to having individual screens. For the first time ever, brands will have the opportunity to take over the entire screen,” said Landsec portfolio director Vasiliki Arvaniti.

For passers-by, the screen will also offer free public Wi-Fi – although access to it will mean seeing adverts from the companies using the display on the Wi-Fi landing page.

Cameras and smart tech tracking people around cities has become pretty commonplace in the UK, but the job of the majority of such systems is to reduce congestion and help law enforcement keep the peace. As such, they’re rather more palatable forms of surveillance.

However, a giant screen with tracking tech that allows companies to target adverts as you go about your business in London town may seem more invasive. But that will likely be a discussion for when the new billboard is switched on, something that Landsec has kept quiet about thus far.

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