Cinema Media Network Brings Haptics-Driven, Touchless Screens Into Moviehouses

June 18, 2020 by Dave Haynes

A digital OOH media network has partnered with a company that has a very different take on touchless technology for information and advertising screens in the lobbies of cinemas.

 CEN Media Group and Ultraleap have announced a deal that will see units installed in 10 cinemas – using technologies mashed-up and harmonized when two companies – Leap Motion and Ultrahaptics – merged last year.

You may recall Leap Motion came out a few years ago with a candy bar-sized gadget that sensed hand gestures in front of a screen as controls. Ultrahaptics, separately, developed technology that provides haptic feedback via air pulses – so you could put your hand in front of a screen and “feel” a control.

The companies, in PR, say:

Starting with 10 city locations, the permanent installation of Ultraleap’s technology will run standard display advertising and touchless interactive content harmoniously. Full ecosystem support will come from the likes of Broadsign for content management and AdMobilize for data analytics.

The installations will include Ultraleap’s hand tracking and mid-air haptics which will limit the spread of germs and provide safe and natural interaction with content. This will be Ultraleap’s first US network installation at scale in digital-out-of-home.

Kevin Romano, CEO and Founder of CEN Media Group, said: “Organizations that are taking proactive measures to protect and enrich the consumer experiences of their customers will be the most successful in the post-COVID-19 world. Safety is always paramount, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of the user experience. We have addressed those issues head on with the installation of Ultraleap’s touchless technologies which provide safe and clean interaction while engaging the consumer.”

In a study conducted by Ultraleap, interactive digital signage was shown to move the needle across a range of measures, from dwell time all the way through to purchase intent. In the cinema lobby context, this resulted in a directional estimate of sales uplift of up to $15,000 per interactive screen over the course of a typical 3-week campaign*.

“When combined with the fact that people are 1.8x more likely to interact with gesture control in the future, compared to touchscreens, it becomes clear that using this type of technology not only surprises and delights consumers, but they now highly value being able to interact without touching surfaces,” said Steve Cliffe, CEO at Ultraleap.

“CEN is taking a proactive approach and considering what future consumer behaviours they can respond to. By installing our touchless technologies, they will be fully prepared for when cinemas begin to reopen.”

It’s interesting, but the angle that this is a COVID-19 counter-measure is a bit of a reach. Being in an enclosed room for two hours with a bunch of people likely presents much more transmission risk than surfaces like a touchscreen, especially if masks are not worn.
But I have seen the Ultrahaptics tech demo’d at a few trade shows, with one example being interactive movie posters, and it was interesting and engaging.
There’s also the base issue that cinemas other than drive-ins, broadly, are still closed in many/most jurisdictions.
Romano’s media company is the evolution of a network and solution the display/projection company Christie started a few years ago, building off the vast ties it has in the cinema industry. Christie is no longer involved.
  1. Jorsh says:

    The UltraLeap device is very clever and certainly unique, but the actual haptic sensation is just way too subtle to be useful for anything practical. It can augment an experience, but can’t really give useful feedback to users. It’s a neat trick, but can’t justify the $7500 price tag. There’s easier and more effective ways to do touchless. By far the simplest and most reliable that I don’t think I’ve ever seen deployed is to use some floor pedals.

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