The Gimmick isn’t Everything: Old vs New Technology for DOOH


When it comes to Creative Technology it’s easy to assume that new means better, but as digital OOH veterans we know that’s not always the case. We’ve used old and new technology over the years and have found positives and negatives to both.

Our approach has always been to use the best technology to enhance creative stories, rather than to use tech as a gimmick, we’ve never seen this work well. While new technology is exotic and enticing, there are still many benefits to using older tech. Older tech is often more basic and therefore offers fewer barriers to entry and any potential limitations are usually well documented.

In 2017 we were tasked with creating an interactive digital OOH campaign for ITV’s, The Voice. To promote the show’s brand new coaching line-up for ITV, we wanted to have the Voice coaches sitting in their famous red chairs with their backs facing the public. Each time a shopper passed close by, the content was triggered and the chairs spun around to reveal the all-star cast. In order to make this happen, we repurposed technology from the 1950s. Passive infrared sensors, or PIR sensors, are an electronic sensor that measures infrared light (or heat) radiating from objects in its field of view. You will most commonly find this tech in burglar alarms and automatically activated lighting systems. And this turned out to be the best tech solution to bring our creative idea to life.

For an alternative example, LEGO Star Wars wanted to entertain shoppers with an Experiential campaign that invited users to “Master the Force”. We needed a solution that allowed participants to engage with on-screen LEGO sets in a digital OOH game. The gesture-sensor technology we employed was a brand new, crowd-funded piece of tech called Orbbec (similar to the Microsoft Kinect) and was still in development when we incorporated it into the activation. The camera had the ability to recognise and track joint movements in 3D, delighting users as they battled against the clock to become a true Jedi Master.

New technology is often accompanied by the fear of the unknown. When it comes to older tech there is a sense of comfort and familiarity which seems to ease concerns. Whether it’s old tech or new tech, ultimately we need to encourage creative-led solutions that enhance the creative story and leave the gimmicks behind.

If you’re curious about creative tech then you should definitely check out our thoughts on facial recognition and some other cool stuff we’ve been working on!