Colchester, South East England might not seem like the most likely location for a pilot of cutting edge mobile phone technology but being a pretty average UK town makes it a good place to test just how interested ordinary citizens might be in using their smart-phone cameras to interact with poster sites.
Viewing any of the poster sites in Colchester through the camera of a compatible Nokia device will automatically offer the user on-screen hyperlinks to content specifically related to the poster in question, ranging from video clips to competitions. This is achieved through a combination of image-recognition and GPS technology.
In addition a series of icons have been developed which when viewed through the camera, trigger links to useful local online information. The icons can be found on ‘street furniture’ such a bus shelters and telephone kiosks.
In order to take part, Nokia’s Point & Find app must first be downloaded by sending an SMS to a shortcode. To interact with a poster or icon, users load the app and point their phone at the image but there is no need to take a photo as the poster or icon is automatically recognised as soon as it comes into focus.
There are several players in this area including Google, but Nokia’s approach is unique. They have been running a poster campaign purely to promote the service to consumers, instructing them how to download the Point & Find app.
To some extent QR codes do have similar functionality however the main reason that they have not become mainstream outside of Japan is that there has been insufficient media activity that explains the proposition and encourages consumers to download the software. The Point & Find app does include other features not mentioned here including a barcode scanner. More details are available at http://pointandfind.nokia.com/
The project is a collaboration between Nokia, media owner JC Decaux and out-of-home agency Posterscope. It has been approached very much as a learning exercise and no decisions have been made as to future availability to advertisers.