I hear voices ... over by the canned peas

A SoCal company is developing technology that can deliver highly focused beams of sound at shoppers, browsers and passers-by, enticing them to look at displays, sample products and maybe even eat McDonald's. As the WSJ tells us:

... Donna Now was caught off-guard by a subtle voice above the corned beef. Glancing up, she saw a plasma screen bursting with color and seeming to address only her. The voice pitched a special on Sara Lee honey turkeys and brown-sugar hams.

"It's pretty powerful," Ms. Now said. "I mean, I'm a vegetarian, but this makes you want to buy that ham."

... In tests at retail stores, these laserlike sound beams pinpoint individual shoppers to encourage buying with recorded messages. At some Wal-Marts that have in-store McDonald's, for example, shoppers heard messages extolling the fast-food outlet's offerings.

The technology's been hyped for a while and is a Popular Science award-winner. It's now beginning to be rolled out in retail applications. Check out how Borealis Breads has been using it.

Here's a more technical explanation from Appliance Manufacturer magazine.

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