DRE: Come on baby, do the LocaModa

May 19, 2006 by Dave Haynes

It took a couple of days, but I finally found something at the Digital Retailing Expo that was new and novel.

Boston-based LocaModa had a little booth off in the back 40 of the show, and some screens here and there demonstrating the way their software and technology platform marries digital signage and cell phones – using SMS text messaging and a very simple spin on interactive voice response systems (IVRs).

I spent some time yakking with co-founder Stephen Randall, a transplanted Brit with a passion for new technology.

How it all technically comes together is over my thinning head, but in the simplest terms, the application for digital signage is a mechanism that allows anyone with a cell phone to ring up a number promoted on a screen – such as in a shop window – and make a request to view something on that screen using sms short codes.

He walked me through a couple of examples, such as one for homes for sale. After dialing an 800 number, I was encouraged by the IVR system to use my cell phone key pad to press various numbers associated with homes promoted on the screen. I pressed in a number and almost instantly the back end of LocaModa’s system sent a text request to the media player to play that related file.

With text messaging usage and sophistication in North America far behind other parts of the globe, and a boomer population well-stocked with Luddites, Randall says he had to dumb it down as much as he could. The net effect is a phone that behaves something like a remote control for digital signage.

This has tons of interesting potential applications and I’ll be very interested to see what LocaModa and its clients come up with.

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