Talking Billboards For Mini Drivers

January 30th, 2007 by William


In 2002 a Steven Spielberg movie called Minority Report became a big screen success. This sci-fi film was set in a Washington DC of the future where cars were controlled by autopilots and traveled on massive highways that wound up and down the sides of tremendous skyscrapers. One of the cooler elements of future America was the retinal scanning technology which allowed advertisers to create custom on the spot advertising to fit each individual that walked by.

It is beginning to look like that future was not so distant. According to a news release from the BMW Group, Mini drivers can now be treated to a customized “talking Billboard” that will deliver a personalized message whenever they pass by. The Motorboard doesn’t talk in the audible sense but it does communicate with lighted written messages. This new idea from Mini USA, dubbed Mini Motorby, will be the first to use advanced technology to communicate directly with its consumers.

Mini owners will be treated to cute messages like this one. Maybe it should say “Watch where you’re going Jim!”

All though it sounds futuristic the concept is remarkably simple. Mini drivers who wish to participate in this program can hope on the internet and go to the MINI Motorby website where they will answer questions about themselves, their Mini’s and how they feel about the Mini experience. An electronic key fob with a built-in authentication mechanism will then be sent to the owner. Every time this key fob passes a Motorboard it communicates the drivers info triggering a personalized message to appear on the board that will “entertain awe and delight the driver”, not to mention distract them from driving their cute little cars. The key fob relies on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology — or, as MINI likes to call it, “Really Fun Interactive Devices” to transmit data. The RFID is similar to what is used in credit cards, however the key fobs have a useable range of 500 feet.

For the time being Mini is only setting up these special billboards in four cities, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and New York. But if it is a successful program, look for the ad campaign to spread to different cities and certainly different auto manufacturers.

-Bill Mertz

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One Response to “Talking Billboards For Mini Drivers”

  1. Nathan Says:

    that’s a cool idea, however, I’m not so so sure about the range (height of billboards in most areas and distance from the road is more than 500ft easily).

    Plus, I’m not personally too sure I’d like everyone around me to know that I am “Nathan” as I’m driving beside them…. especially if I just accidentally cut them off eh?

    I’m sure they will have an option to allow you to choose what name is displayed, etc.

    I wonder what would happen if they’d let you choose your own message :P . I can see it now…

    “Hey you in the black civic…watch where you’re going! - Thanks, Mini Driver to your left”


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About William

I am a twenty something car enthusiast. I spend most of my days working in a small restoration shop in Northern California that specializes in vintage Alfa Romeos. I also manage to do some freelance writing for a handful of automotive publications. When I'm not at the shop I can usually be found working on one of my own project cars, out driving on a good windy road or good jeep trail. Despite what my girlfriend says cars aren't what defines me, they are only what I do. When I have a chance I also love to go camping, play sports or generally do any type of outdoor activity. I don't take myself to seriously, so I hope you don't either.

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