While many forms of advertising employ sound as part of their sensory mix, one intriguing approach provides a way to surprise listeners with what seems to be a personal auditory experience. One fascinating example is the billboard erected a couple of years ago for the A&E series, Paranormal State. As pedestrians approached the billboard, they heard a voice whispering, seemingly in their ear. This is certainly a suitably creepy approach for a show about ghosts.

The technology used in that billboard is an “audio spotlight” created by Holosonics founder Dr. Joseph Pompeii. This video gives a brief history of the invention and shows that a whole new world of practical jokes has been opened up with highly focused audio:

A more detailed description of the ultrasonic technology employed by Holosonics and the historyof their products can be found here.

Holosonics has employed the technology in creating trade show displays as well as enhancing retail environments. In each case, sound can be directed and contained to a small area. Not only does this provide a surprising audio experience for the listener, it also reduces the cacophony in these noisy environments and allows multiple audio programs to be used in fairly close proximity without interfering with each other.

I’m actually surprised we aren’t seeing more of this kind of technology in common use. Sound is obviously an important sense for marketers and a key part of branding, so the ability to deliver sounds or messages in a targeted manner could make for additional creative applications. Or, in the case of Neuromarketing readers, perhaps a few juvenile pranks, too!

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