Sign of the times

Our readers ask us for information on new technologies available to them. We search trade shows, the web and pore over trade magazines looking for the latest cutting edge technology. In this article, PMQ has found some interesting emerging technology you may be interested in. Here are some of the newest technologies-some are not even widespread yet-and a look at how they might work for you, our readers.

Turn any TV into an advertising tool.

This product is very new to the industry, but promises big returns. TargetCast TV president and CEO, Paul Yarmolich, told me, "This is a way for establishment owners to take a non-performing asset (i.e. the television) and gain returns on the product." The system attaches to the television. Every so often, at a time that the owner specifies, the viewing screen shrinks enough to leave two sides of the screen open in a 'frame.' Inside of the frame you can advertise any product that you want to push, whether it's a special or something that isn't doing as well as you think it should.

You would expect to see this technology at home on a major news network. In fact, Paul told me that the idea for the software comes from a sports ticker. The major difference is that the 'frame' for a ticker is tied only to the specific channel the viewer is watching, while with this type of technology, the frame is tied to the television and stays visible, no matter what the channel. This allows you to advertise your product where your customer is looking without interrupting what they're watching. According to Paul, this can drive up sales on a product, beverage consumption or brand consumption between 3 and 15 percent.

"People can't help but read what's on television," Paul told me. "We take that human reaction and use it to drive up sales. We've found that interspersing other information, such as sports scores, keeps the viewer interested." The advertisements themselves are easily changed, according to Paul. "The ad template is similar to a PowerPoint template and allows the owner to produce a broadcast-quality advertisement, easily and inexpensively."

The actual unit is no larger than a deck of cards and will attach to the back of your television using Velcro?. From there, the system feeds in to a broadcast server that gives the owner the ability to plan the advertising schedule and manage/design the ads. TargetCastTV runs at around $190 per video screen (one time fee) and a monthly fee, but buyers will probably have a choice between renting the system and paying for it outright.

Smell-o-Vision

Virtual Scentsations, developed by a company called Digital Tech Frontier in 1998, spreads chosen and programmed smells to the customer. Originally used in hospitals and theme parks, the applications possible for restaurants are limitless. It can be used anywhere to simulate a desired smell; such as fresh-baked pastry when in fact, your pastries might be brought in from an outside source. "With technology driving more towards the experiential," Creative Director Scott Jochim told me. "You have to look at all of the senses, including the olfactory."

Scott told me that this technology works in a couple of ways. Firstly, the technology gives a scent or a more pronounced scent to a food product. "This technology allows people to see the product and then smell it," Scott told me. Secondly, it can be used as a way to entice people from somewhere else to look for a certain type of food, even if they can't see it. The hypoallergenic, FDA approved system can release as many as three scents into the air at once.

fresheners or incense are sticky-the smell can stick or adhere to surfaces once sprayed," Scott told me. "Our product is not. It is released into the air and dissipates within seconds."

The cost for the initial setup for this system is around $2,500, which includes some of the scents. You will need to buy replacement scents every two to three months. The cost for a replacement scent is between $100 and $150.

Signs that speak directly to customers

Invented by a man called Woody Norris, president of the American Technology Corporation, HyperSonic Sounds? allows advertisers a new and innovative way to target a specific public. According to the American Technology Corporation website, HSS? is a highly directional band of ultrasonic energy that forms a column of sound that can only be heard if someone is standing in the path of the column. Translation: This technology is to sound what spotlighting is to lights. It focuses the sound down to such a point that only someone directly in the path of the "spotlight" can hear any noise from the system. This means that only your selected customer hears the information and even then, hears it as clearly as if someone were saying it straight into his or her ear. "(This technology) enhances speaker technology rather than working against it," said Robert Putnam, Investor in Media Relations at American Technology Corporation. "Several units can be used in a room to say different things, where only one thing can be said by a loudspeaker." It can be used for anything from private messages to the customers that hang over tables to advertisements while in line, including private jukeboxes and "silent" video games. This technology is in the beginning stages of marketing. According to Robert, over 300 companies are currently testing the system. "We're the first and only company to date to bring this revolutionary new audio technology to industrial and consumer application," Robert told me. The system ranges in size from hand to paddle sized. A basic setup costs between $800 and $1200. Here's an idea that could convert your television into a selling and promotional wonder. You could give cross promoting a try. Exchange ad space with a non-competitive company. For example advertise the cable company on your television in exchange for an ad through them. Also, look into national companies, such as beer or soft drinks, to see if they might be interested in advertising their product for a small fee. That way, you do more business, and they sell more of that particular product. Spreading the smells of your business benefits everyone. Your customer first smells, and then craves your food, which causes you to sell more pizza. In fact, Disney originally used this technology to do just that. With their food and rides on two different sides of the parks, they attracted people to their food by releasing scents into the air above their rides and the entrance to the parks. Being able to talk directly to your customer can only be a good thing. This technology cleans up the noise pollution in your business. Just think, using this technology, you can guarantee that your customer hears your message exactly when and where you want them to hear it without adding in a lot of the extra noise.