Orwell or Huxley?

Sky Deutschland has developed technology to transfer adverts from train windows directly and silently into commuters’ heads. Passengers leaning their head against the window will “hear” adverts “coming from inside the user’s head”, urging them to download the Sky Go app. The proposal involves using bone conduction technology, which is used in hearing aids, headphones and Google’s Glass headset, to pass sound to the inner ear via vibrations through the skull.

(The Telegraph, 8/7/2013)

On reflection I think this story smacks more of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World than George Orwell’s 1984, in that the aim is to encourage commuters to consume rather than to control their thoughts or behaviour. Nevertheless, the concept is certainly sinister and disturbing – not to mention annoying. Picture the tired commuter who attempts to snatch a few seconds of sleep; her drooping head touches the train’s window and the advertisement begins in her head. She starts, loses contact with the window but gradually nods off again, and the cycle repeats. Advertising, or torture?


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