Detroit, MI - Automobile manufacturers are emulating ad blocking
software for the Internet by developing billboard blocking technology
for cars, trucks and SUVs. Ford and GM have taken different approaches
in billboard blocking technology.
Ford combines GPS and guided missile technology to accomplish the
task. The roof-mounted guided missiles system gets data from the
GPS to sense when the driver is approaching a billboard, and launches
a missile, automatically destroying the billboard. Since the system
is quite heavy, it is currently only available on trucks, SUVs and
larger cars with towing packages installed, and works at distances
of up to five miles.
also uses GPS data but combines it with advanced electrochromic Smart
Glass to darken windows when the driver approaches billboards. GM
chief engineer, Red Haroom, explained, "We're really proud of
the Blackout Billboard Buster or Triple-B system. Unlike Ford's missile
system, our system is completely non-destructive and much more effective.
Triple-B can turn a window from transparent to completely opaque
in an instant, and then when you've passed the offending advertisement
back to transparent."
Haroom continued, "We don't think that destroying the billboards
is the answer. New billboards will just pop right up to replace them.
What if you run out of missiles? There's really nothing you can do
until you reload. Some left wing consumer advocates have complained
that blacking out the windows can be dangerous, but our research
has shown it's not any more dangerous than watching the dash mounted
DVD player while talking on the phone blindfolded."
Haley Kamsten, an engineer who helped develop the Billboard B-Gone
system at Ford, countered, "With our system the driver's viewing
area is completely unobstructed. Safety is our prime objective unlike
GM. Their claim that drivers will run out of missiles is hogwash.
The average driver sees about 20 billboards on a normal drive so
we've outfitted the new Explorer with 25 missiles, but that really
should be plenty for any length journey. Billboard B-Gone is really
a community effort. If a car in front of you wipes out a billboard
you won't have to, saving your missile. We expect to sell millions
of vehicles equipped with these system and working together they
could wipe out a large city in a few weeks. All the advertising in
a large city that is."
While Ford's missile technology works well on freestanding billboards
along the interstate, Kamsten admits that urban advertisements mounted
on sides of buildings are more problematic. "It's difficult
to bring down a whole building, so we're developing new more powerful
explosives or 'brick busters' to deal with them," explained
Display advertising companies are lobbying Congress to make the
new blocking technology illegal, but in the interim they are starting
to outfit their billboards with anti-missile batteries.
Daimler Chrysler isn't far behind and expects to have their own
technology which is said to follow yet another path. "Our system
plots a course to avoid known billboard installations. When a new
billboard is detected it relays this information via satellite to
update the master data base. Sure you might go 50 or 100 miles out
of your way, but you won't see any advertising, " said a Chrysler
Ford and GM should have billboard blocking devices available in
the 2004 model year.
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