Bone Conduction Audio Used for Talking Train Windows

By Norman Chan

Of course, the proposed use case is for advertisements.

Here's an idea that looks like a Futurama joke. German advertising company BBDO has been showing off a new advertising technology that targets sleeping train passengers who rest their heads on windows. The Talking Window, as BBDO calls it, uses bone conduction audio transmission to send an audio signal from a small transmitter along the window, which is amplified through the skull of the passenger so only they can hear it. It's the same technology that Google Glass uses to convey audio messages to users wearing the headgear. As the BBC reports, bone conduction audio has previously been used in hearing aids and headphones for swimmer. Magicians are apparently also known to use bone conduction devices to implant messages in a subject's head for illusions.

In a video demo posted by BBDO, the agency proposes using The Talking Window to wake sleeping commuters up and alert them to download smartphone apps and watch streaming video. Even in the company's own promo video, the passengers look more annoyed than surprised to receive the advertisement. And while BBDO has said that its first tests of the system receive "highly encouraging reactions," YouTube comments are a fair bit less enthusiastic.

Other proposed uses for the Talking Window include transmitting music, transit information, and weather reports to passengers who want to hear them.