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September 16, 2005

Cabvision: The Way the Future Is

I took a taxi the other day. It was a new taxi, and as I sat down the cab driver turned on Cabvision, a system which broadcasts 'entertainment and information' to the captive audience in the back of the car. I looked to see if I could turn it off. It played me a short safety video, because, you know, cabs are dangerous environments that I might not be familiar with. I felt uncomfortable. I had papers to read for my meeting; I didn't want to watch TV. I don't generally watch TV, except for turning it on for a particular show.

It then played me a short video about the controls, and I located them. One of them had a picture of a TV with a cross through it. Ha! I thought. It then turned to 'standby' mode, where it cycled quietly through a series of news headlines. I wanted to turn it off properly, but of course I couldn't.

We already have static ads on the backs of toilet doors, on the seat in front of you on buses, on anywhere, in fact, where the people who don't watch advertising on television can be caught. We have television ads in places like doctor's surgeries, airports and other waiting areas. There are ads on the tops of takeaway cartons, and the backs of bus tickets. Every few days, I see an ad that makes me think 'gosh, I hadn't thought of advertising there'.

Soon, all the static ads will be screens. All the ads on the escalators will be screens, timed to show you a complete ad in the 40 seconds it takes you to get downstairs. I think billboards and other static ads aimed at drivers are probably safe. But I could be wrong.

I huddled down miserably in my seat, trying not to watch Cabvision and wondering once again whether I've finally found the technology that I can't cope with, the one that turns me into one of the Old People.

Posted by Alison at September 16, 2005 07:55 AM


The bus routes running Tamworth to Birmingham used to have bus-o-vision. The tapes got updated once a month. They were played on commuters buses at 7am and then again on the commuter buses at 6pm. The commuters weren't happy. When the initial pilot was over the contract wasn't renewed. Funny, that.

Posted by: Max at September 16, 2005 11:30 AM

The ads on the escalators at Tottenham Court Road station already are screens.

Posted by: Mike Scott at September 18, 2005 09:43 AM

The 23 bus I took on Monday had LCD bus-o-vision, and I expect it's on all the time.

Posted by: Steven Cain at September 20, 2005 11:03 PM

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