Air quality sensor for digital OOH. Grand Visual.
When considering dynamic DOOH campaigns that use data, the mind automatically jumps to weather data such as temperature, precipitation and wind… however, there are a wealth of other data types available, from pollen counts to traffic jams. What we wanted to explore was the possibility of collecting hyper-localised air quality data, that could be used to update each piece of DOOH creative.

There are a plethora of different sensors available on the market that can detect gas levels. The sensor that we settled on was the MQ135 (catchy, right?) which can detect gases such as NH3, NOx, alcohol, Benzene, smoke, and CO2. Getting the readings of these substances in the air would give us a good indication of the current air quality.

By connecting the sensor to an Arduino and an LED strip, we were able to get a visual representation of the readings. Luckily, it seemed that the quality of air in our office was good, so we introduced some other pollutants to test.

Air Quality sensor for digital OOH.

The sensor we had displayed its readings on the screen in ppm (parts per million). The higher the number the more pollutants in the air.

This was the scale used to categorise the ppm ranges.

Results from air quality tests using an air quality sensor. Grand Visual.

With the demo working successfully the next step was to take it outside. So to make the kit portable, we set ourselves up with a 3D printed box to house the sensor along with a USB battery.

Then we headed out to get some measurements.

Results from air quality tests using an air quality sensor. Grand Visual.

Are you surprised by the readings? All 3 locations fell well within the “good” range, we definitely expected much higher readings in Piccadilly Circus compared to St James’s Park, but it was reassuring to see there was a difference.

For this example, we used an air quality sensor but there are sensors that can provide data local to a particular installation such as temperature, lightning strikes, rain detection and sound decibel levels.

We’re no strangers to dynamic campaigns that rely on specific data triggers, take for example this campaign for Elizabeth Arden which used location-specific pollution readings. Imagine how much more effective this could have been with hyper-localised, real-time readings. It’s still in the early stages, but we’re keen to keep looking into new and more creative data sources to power DOOH.

Mo-Sys StarTracker
Jon Jones, Creative Technologist

You may be familiar with The Weather Channel’s immersive mixed reality depicting the effects of flooding caused by hurricanes, or perhaps appreciated the BBC’s use of Augmented Reality during their 2019 Wimbledon coverage. These effects were made possible by Mo-Sys’ StarTracker technology.

We were invited down to Mo-Sys’ studio and development centre recently to see their kit in action. It was certainly impressive to see a demonstration in real life and how the tech works behind-the-scenes.

Mo-Sys StarTracker

Reflective dots are attached to the studio ceiling and Mo-Sys’ StarTracker sensor calculates where in the studio the camera is – even when the camera moves. The data is then passed on to a computer that generates the Mixed Reality environment. This is where graphics can be put in front or behind the subject within the 3D environment in real-time.

The Weather Channel - Mo-Sys

Here, you can create anything from a photo realistic to a cartoon superhero world. The tech can use the latest in ray tracing rendering in the Unreal engine.

Imagine bringing Hollywood-grade CGI techniques and graphics to an OOH activation – experiences would be more immersive than ever before! The beauty of this tech is its ability to render graphics on the fly, rather than having to have them pre-rendered to make the experience. With this evolution we now have the ability to create activations where participants are able to interact within a 3D AR environment.

We worked with mixed reality on the Disney Infinity project, which used Chromatte and keying technology. Whilst this project was a huge success, imagine what we could have achieved with the technology that exists today. Being able to create, track & react with participants in the 3D environment offers activations like these a level of flexibility that was previously unobtainable.

Disney Infinity Grand Visual

Envision being placed in the same 3D space as, say a character from your favourite TV show, where you and the camera would be able to move around giving the appearance of them actually being there next to you. It’d be a great experience and takeaway video!

It’s awesome to see such advances in technology and the creative ways they are being applied, like with the Weather Channel. It makes this a very exciting space to be working in. We’re really looking forward to seeing how this will be used across the wider industry and in particular the creative opportunity tech like this brings for digital OOH.

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!

Grand Visual Team New Hires 2019
After a great start to a people-focused 2019, we are excited to announce that we have expanded with five new team members!

Grand Visual Team New Hires

We can’t wait to see what they will bring to our team and hope you’ll join us in welcoming them and wishing them all the best. Bolstering our ranks are:


Gwen Kotschy, Head of People commented:

We refined our recruitment process this year and it’s great to see this paying off and to be welcoming five brilliant additions to the team.  Grand Visual has great heritage in nurturing Junior talent, some of whom are now our longest standing members of the team. I’m thrilled that 3 of our most recent hires are for Junior positions! And on that note, we’re not done with recruitment yet! Please take a look here at our most recent Junior positions currently open in the Creative team…


Grand Visual Team

our team


How long have you been at GV for and what’s your role?
I’ve been at GV for five years now and I am Head of People.

What’s your favourite GV campaign?
That’s an easy one! My favourite GV campaign is the Let The Memories Begin campaign that we did for Disney.

If you weren’t in the Operations, would you rather be in the Finance Team or the Tech Team?
If I wasn’t in Operations, I would rather be in the Tech Team as they are always building cool stuff for our campaigns.

Would you rather live in a place that is always cold or always hot?
I would rather live in a place that is always hot than cold.

Would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly through the air?
I would prefer to breathe underwater than fly through the air.


our team


How long have you been at GV for and what’s your role?
I’ve been at GV for 6 years and I’m the Creative Director.

What’s your favourite GV campaign?
Probably the Augmented Reality campaign that we did for Doctor Strange as it had a load of awesome things going on in it.

If you weren’t in the Creative Team, would you rather be in Client Services or the Production Team?
That’s a difficult question. I think I’d rather be in Production rather than Client Services as I don’t think I’d enjoy communicating with clients on that side of things!

Would you rather be the first person to explore a planet or be the inventor of a drug that cures a deadly disease?
I have no interest in trying to discover new planets so I guess it would be curing a disease.

Would you rather be completely invisible for a day or be able to fly?
I think I would get up to terrible things if I was completely invisible for a day so I’d stick with flying for a day!

Dan Dawson CCO, Grand Visual

This first appeared in MarTech Series on 21st February 2019.

Our Chief Creative Technology Officer, Daniel Dawson discusses technological advancements in the Out-of-Home (OOH) industry in 2018 and his predictions for AdTech with MarTech Series.

Daniel Dawson ADtech OOH

Tell us about your role at Grand Visual and the team/technology you handle.

I head up all creative technology projects at Grand Visual and I am lucky to have a diverse team with a broad spectrum of creative, technical and coding backgrounds to work with.

Besides working on our own AdTech platforms and systems, we also explore, implement, and hone a whole range of innovative engagement techniques such as Augmented Reality, Touch & Gesture, Face Tracking, Video, and Mobile to drive interactions. Engaging stories allow consumers to change or personalize experiences in various ways, creating greater brand recall and changing consumer behaviours. 

What were the most significant technological advancements in the Out-of-Home industry in 2018?

There have been some high-profile advancements in the testing of programmatic platforms for automated media trading. A significant and necessary step forward for the industry, in terms of connecting real programmatic media to programmatic creative — the holy grail.

Google Maps DOOH 2019

What are your predictions on the state of AdTech in 2019?

AdTech systems are already changing the way brands plan, book and use the Out-of-Home medium. OOH specialists have begun to buy a sustained presence across the year for heavy OOH users such as McDonald’sCoca Cola and Google, with these brand’s implementing a longer-term intelligent planning approach across their brand and product portfolios. In 2019, these backend AdTech systems will make huge steps in terms of their interoperability. This will see improvements across inventory management, transactional exchanges, data management, creative logistics, creative optimization and, of course, reporting, all areas for systemization. Consolidation of networks, agreement on standards, and system integration will show Digital Out-of-Home gearing up to be a real force this year.

How would the AdTech industry further grow with the maturity of data science and analytics?

In the Digital OOH (DOOH) space, we are rich in data. While data aggregation and uniformity is still a challenge, especially with some campaigns using up to 15 separate data feeds, we have the benefit of permanent screen technology and can, therefore, build a data picture of the location, the changing conditions, and audiences. Audience insights boost our ability to make advertising creatives contextual and relevant, and more impactful. It also enables targeted Out-of-Home ad buys, which are only activated when the conditions are right, leading to improvements in audience targeting efficiency.

Real-time campaign reporting from third-party verification platforms such as PlayTrack also offers advertisers the ability to assess campaign success and optimize creative on the go. This level of transparency and accountability is crucial for the programmatic future of Digital OOH. Further down the line again — increased data sharing through the blockchain will fuel omnichannel and omniscreen campaigns with much smarter cross-platform audience planning. With more electronic devices in everyone’s pockets, connected, cross-platform digital platforms campaigns will become a programmatic reality.

Spotify 2018 Wrapped Digital OOH

Tell us more about QDOT.

QDOT is an AdTech business designed to facilitate smart, scalable campaign management for digital OOH. These digital-asset management tools were originally developed and used as in-house processes, for Grand visual clients. But as the market grew and evolved to become a flexible, tactical, and real-time platform, just like other digital mediums, Out-of-Home required the infrastructure and creative toolkits to handle the growing volume of creative. That’s why we launched QDOT and opened up our platforms and services to the entire market.

To deliver Spotify’s Wrapped campaign, for example, over 7,640 personalized playlists were shared globally. OpenLoop, the smart campaign management platform from QDOT, allowed users to submit their personalized Wrapped stats and see them published on iconic digital billboards around the world. OpenLoop ingested the data and automated the delivery just moments later. Before OpenLoop, campaigns like this would have been a logistical nightmare. It’s about providing ease of use and driving creativity.

How did you prepare for the execution of the ‘Wrapped’ campaign?

Spotify sent us a version of their data schema and a mock-up of the creative. We tested the schema across our platforms and suggested refinements. Our software is very versatile and is able to ingest feeds to match them against physical locations and media plans. Pairing this with our creative and content development made the whole process very smooth for us and the client.

McDonald's McWeather Digital OOH

At Grand Visual, how do you combine creative technology with data? Could you lead us through your data analytics operations before launching any DOOH/OTT campaigns?

Data crafting is part of what we do. We evaluate all the sources of data that are available and decide how and what to use in order to enhance the brand story and bring the campaign to life. It’s not about using data and technology for the sake of it, we approach data carefully with the brand story always at the heart of what we do. It’s rule-based and creative-driven data science.

How do you prepare for an AI-focused world? Which technologies are you most keen to learn more about?

Grand Visual’s job is to craft creative stories based on the data sources available. So, we’re interested in Machine Learning algorithms and Predictive Analytics based on historical data. Both on a media buying level as well as content creation. If we can predict consumer behaviour — we can base messages on real-world outcomes.

Unified programmatic planning and creative optimization is the end goal, where Planning, Buying, Distribution, Playback, and Reporting are programmatically achieved using real-time audience information and data insight to drive the decision-making process. So. right now creating standards, is a core challenge for the industry. Globally agreed standards for independent 3rd-party verification of advertising play-outs (down to a panel and individual play level), will support the growth of the digital OOH market globally. Making it easier to run digital campaigns at scale across all DOOH channels.

ise 2019 Digital OOH campaign

Integrated Systems Europe is the world´s largest AV systems integration show, taking place in Amsterdam from 5-8 February. Jon, Creative Technologist, and Collins, Technician went along to check out the latest cutting-edge technology. We’ve shared our highlights from the show, so if you couldn’t make it or just want to check it out again, see our key takeaways below. We’re already looking forward to ISE 2020!

MAD//Fest 2019

MAD//Fest (the ‘MAD’ stands for Marketing, Advertising and Disruption) had its debut this year in London. From their website … “MAD//Fest is all about bringing together the creatives, techies, pioneers, problem solvers, upstarts, opportunists, do’ers, dreamers and disruptors for a festival of innovation, lateral thinking and big ideas”. We went along to check it out and were blown away with the amount of interesting, educational and inspiring talks on offer. We shared the highlights from the sessions we attended, if you couldn’t make it check out our key takeaways below. Already looking forward to MAD//Fest 2019!

Technology Grand Visual Digital OOH
Welcome to our September instalment of Things We Love. A little something we hope will help you to get to know us at GV a little better. Every month we’re sharing things we’ve worked on and loved, new technology we’ve been looking at which could be applied to digital OOH, all things creative or something we’re just really geeking out on.

Buffalo Bill Gates Technology

Buffalo Bill Gates – PETE – MGFX DESIGNER

“Artist Kalle Mattsson, aka Buffalo Bill Gates, creates celebrity portrait mash-ups of famous faces with other celebrity identities/fictional entities to create offbeat hybrid personalities. We commonly see this ‘meme’ type artwork primarily online, however, it is great to see that Kalle Mattsson has an upcoming print exhibition showcasing his many wacky creations.”

Mixed Reality Graphic For The Weather Channel – ADAM – MGFX DESIGNER

The Weather Channel utilised mixed reality while reporting on the power and danger of Hurricane Florence. The graphics showed flood waters rising well above the meteorologist’s heads, with howling winds and cars floating on the surface of the water. The technology is incredibly effective, and I’m keen to see the evolution of mixed reality and how that can be translated to digital signage and beyond.”

Interactive display in AR – STEVE – CREATIVE

Apples ARKit has enabled many software developers and hobbyists to push Augmented Reality technology further, producing ideas and concepts that could change the way we interact with products, and advertisements. AR IRL (in real life) is a proof of concept which shows that users can interact with Augmented Reality elements onscreen in order to have an impact on physical objects. This example shows a user interacting with an AR keypad lock which unlocks a physical box. It’s an exciting thought to be able to interact with some kind of puzzle on your phone to unlock a digital vending machine DOOH activation.”

Cryptocurrency digital OOH

Jackson Palmer – FREDDIE – DEVELOPER

As a tech guy, I find cryptocurrency interesting from the development perspective and recently I’ve been enjoying Jackson Palmer on YouTube. He’s great at explaining the technicalities of cryptocurrencies and stays clear of the trading side of things. For instance, his latest episode outlines what Dapps are (decentralised applications – apps run by many users rather than a company) and why no one is using them. It’s interesting if you want to get a critical look at the current state of cryptocurrency technologies and what the future is likely to hold.”


Wireless Charging Arduino Digital OOH
Jon Jones, Creative Technologist

As the resident Creative Technologist at Grand Visual, I am always looking for creative and innovative ways to increase interaction and dwell time for our campaigns. Surely one of the best ways to achieve this is to give people a perk to attract their attention?

Now that Apple has jumped on the wireless charging bandwagon, the rate of adoption for wireless technology is going to surge ahead and it seems like a great time for me to explore this technology a little deeper.

The mission, that I chose to accept, was to link digital OOH and wireless charging technologies together and I found a pretty great implementation, if I may say so myself. Teaming together an Arduino, current sensor, QI wireless charging pad, Node.js, and some HTML5 wizardry it’s possible to interactively alter any content that’s being displayed on the screens in our office.


So here’s how it works… when a compatible mobile phone is placed on the charging pad, the Arduino measures an increase in the power being used. When this happens, it communicates to a Node.js server on our player, which then instructs the HTML5 application to change the creative displayed on-screen.

We’ve now instantly created extended dwell time where the guest is waiting for their device to charge – a great captive audience to display long-form content to.

This is definitely something I’m looking forward to building upon more. This method isn’t tied just to wireless charging – it can be any USB charging device, such as headphones, thus opening up the target audience even further. It’s exciting to think of more creative applications with adding more charging pads; how can the content be changed depending on the number of devices charging?

Cool idea, right? Let me know what you think via Twitter! @GrandVisual