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5 out-of-home technology trends that will change our landscapes forever

(Image credit: Image Credit: GaudiLab / Shutterstock)

Lightvert is a new ‘MAdTech’ (Media Advertising Technology) start-up that’s planning on changing our city skylines forever with a new hyper-scale augmented reality billboard, called ECHO. We spoke with Stephen Allen, Lightvert’s Media Director, about what other far-reaching technologies he believes will dominate our lives in the years to come.

‘In recent years technology has been getting smaller, as we’ve developed more and more powerful computers, faster processers, and virtual realities. However, at Lightvert, the macro interests us, and understanding what technologies will dominate our landscape, city centres and the Digital-out-of-Home industry. I’ve explored five tech trends that I believe will have a huge impact on our everyday lives, permanently changing the way brands interact with their consumers.

Device-less augmented reality

AR commonly manipulates the screen of a device, such as a phone, glasses or a tablet, to display new information in the real world. I see a future where AR works with our natural biology or the general landscape, and eliminates the need for a device completely, which is the space that Lightvert is operating in.

Our own ECHO display runs a small strip of light onto the corner of a building, which then reflects a phased image into the eyes of the passing public on the street. Eyes experience a persistence of vision effect when exposed to light, which the ECHO display manipulates to make a fleeting, but striking image appear to the viewer.  This essentially means we can create an augmented reality advert without the need of a device. This is device-less AR, and I believe this kind of technology will appear in a number of places in the future. Windows on buildings will provide more information to the people inside, car windows will be able to reveal additional information to both drivers and passengers, and advertisers will find a way of exploiting non-visible light such as infrared to engage customers in new ways.

Personalised AR

Augmented reality will soon allow advertising to change depending on who is viewing.  Devices like the Hololens provide advertisers with the chance to get incredibly personal, potentially using geo-targeting and data algorithms to change adverts depending on who is looking. For example, if a viewer’s favourite colour is blue, an ad might switch to show a new sports car in their favourite colour.

Companies like VRtize are already working on this technology, so it won’t be long before we are given a similar experience in the real world. Once we’re all wearing augmented reality glasses in everyday life, traditional billboards will likely be completely replaced with blank hoardings, which will serve as an anchor point for huge AR adverts. This would open up new real estate, for example on the side of motorways, where glasses-wearing passengers will be advertised to without any distraction to the driver.

Machine learning & AI

As you will know, artificial Intelligence and machine learning are already omnipresent in IT. But how will they change the world of advertising?  

At the moment, smart adverts rely on smart planners. They sift through the data and find the perfect time and location to show your advert, but it’s a pretty basic science. But what if a machine learning advertising algorithm could constantly evolve and adapt to live events? For example, the fickle UK weather could prompt a change in advert to respond to the outside conditions. With Spring soon upon us this is particularly important, where it’s not uncommon to experience three seasons in one day. You don’t want to be advertising beachwear when there’s driving rain outside! This kind of intelligent, human-like thinking is out there already, with companies such as Linkett developing solutions for advertisers to allow campaigns to adapt in real time.

Internet of Things (IoT) in advertising

Following on from the example above, Digital-out-of-Home advertising displays will be computers in their own right, so could even be fitted with sensors that can respond to local weather anomalies, relaying this information back to agencies so they can analyse the data.

An IoT advertising board would be able to tell when it’s snowing, and switch the advert to show the location of the nearest Costa coffee, along with a steaming mug of cocoa, for example.

In a world that’s obsessed with data, connected adverts might even be able to perform data capture tasks for analysts, such as measuring footfall in a particular location, or tracking eye movements to see how an ad is performing.


Li-Fi represents a huge leap forwards in communication. Li-Fi uses light rather than radio waves to send information, and light travels faster than anything so this will provide unparalleled stability and speed. As long as you have a clear line of sight you will be able to enjoy uninterrupted connectivity.

Any source of light will essentially become a router, which opens up a load of opportunities for tracking the movement of people. This is not only invaluable data, but also means adverts can respond to someone as they move through the environment. Thanks to Li-Fi, an ad could literally follow you around!

This isn’t in the pipeline at the moment, but how amazing would it be if we could use Lightvert’s ECHO display to send a Li-Fi signal out to the public. Brands could run treasure hunts around city centres, or provide hidden content that you can unlock with your handheld device.

The world is changing, and the futuristic advertising environment predicted in movies like Blade Runner and Minority Report are soon becoming a reality.

It’s an exciting time to be alive, and I can’t wait to be a part of it all.

Stephen Allen, Lightvert
Image Credit: GaudiLab / Shutterstock

Stephen Allen
Stephen Allen is from Lightvert, whose revolutionary ECHO technology creates the world’s largest digital outdoor images creating an eye-catching spectacle and unlocking new, high value advertising real estate.