Ford patented a system that uses a vehicle’s cameras to detect billboards and pull them up on a car’s infotainment systems.
While billboards have been used for advertisements for quite some time, they do not necessarily provide much information to those driving by them. Ford plans to fill in these gaps with in-car ads. The legacy automaker wants to display advertisements in the infotainment, including phone numbers, addresses, or links to an advertiser’s website. Ford explains this in its patent.
“The driver and/or passenger of the vehicle has a limited amount of time to obtain information from the billboard located near the road as the vehicle approaches and passes the billboard. In some instances, the driver and/or passenger of the vehicle may miss information of the advertisement on the billboard that directs the driver and/ or passenger to the corresponding business,” Ford wrote.
Ford’s patent leverages the built-in cameras of a vehicle to keep an eye out for passing billboards. With image recognition, cars could then display a copy of the detected advertisement through the infotainment system. Ford also intends to analyze the content of billboards to generate hyperlinks or phone numbers that passengers can access.
“The billboard interface includes a hyperlink of a segment of the billboard advertisement that initiates an event corresponding to the segment of the billboard advertisement to enable the user to obtain additional information associated with the billboard advertisement before, during, and/or after the vehicle passes the billboard advertisement. For example, the user may select a segment of the billboard interface that includes a phone number included in the billboard advertisement. Upon selecting the segment with the phone number, the vehicle and/or a mobile device of the user calls the phone number, for example, to enable the user to place an order with a business associated with the billboard advertisement,” Ford wrote.
While the presence of in-car ads would undoubtedly receive polarizing reviews from the driving public, there is little doubt that in-car advertisements would be effective. It may also pave the way for a business model similar to Amazon’s Kindles with “Special Offers,” which are affordable but display ads when in standby. With this in mind, perhaps Ford could start offering more affordable versions of its vehicles in the future to customers willing to view in-car advertisements while they are traveling.
Ford’s in-car ad plans would likely attract a lot of scrutiny among car owners and possibly regulators due to its potential safety risks. Ford may be working on innovations such as BlueCruise, but such systems are still best used with drivers that have their full attention to the road. In-car ads, which are designed to draw attention, would likely present notable risks.
Ford’s in-car advertisement patent could be viewed below.