Hearing Voices? It’s the sound of technology whizzing past.

Imagine their surprise when tired German commuters leaned their heads against the train windows next to them and “heard” an advertisement. Even weirder: Passengers seated next to them heard nothing.

The German test ads use prototype transmitters on the train windows that send high-frequency vibrations directly to passengers’ inner ears when they lean on the glass. This bone-conduction technology is similar to that used with Google Glass audio and some hearing aids. Spoiler alert: Some magicians also use it to “plant” a message in an audience member’s head.

The advertisements were for a video streaming service from Sky Deutschland. (Sky Deutschland is a pay TV service controlled by News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.)

If Sky Deutschland agrees, BBDO Germany, the product’s developer, plans to implement the ads more widely. A BBDO spokesman calls the response to the Talking Windows project “positive,” although some Internet comments have been hostile.

“Some people don’t like advertising in general,” says BBDO’s Ulf Brychcy. “But this is really a new technology. It might not only be used for advertising, but also for music, entertainment, mass transport information, weather reports and so on.”

There are no plans to expand the product use beyond Germany, but “if we look into the future: Everything is possible,” says Brychcy.

Watch a Talking Windows demonstration on SUCCESS.com.


Betsy Simnacher is a freelance writer who has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. She lives in the suburbs of Dallas.

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