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There’s a movement underway to install countdown timers inside of the NYC subway. Many of the other large systems in the world already have them. While I don’t believe they are necessary in NYC with the very short wait times for a train, I did notice something related that could be a new way for the MTA (the transit authority in NYC) to create a new revenue stream.
Nearly every station I’ve been to recently had very clear announcements on the platforms. This is a big change from the announcement systems of the 70s and 80s. There are announcements about security, how long until the next train arrives and a variety of other public service messages.
With all of the talk these days about local and local advertising, this could be a great opportunity for the MTA to launch “platform audio advertising”. I could see two types of ads; a general category that runs across the system and a local category with ads for companies that are within a short distance of the current station.
Now let’s come back to the countdown timers. We know how far a train is from a station and that distance tells us the precise time to play the ads. Naturally we wouldn’t want to play an ad when a train is entering the station. There is plenty of time between trains entering and departing to provide a reasonable amount of ads that don’t overwhelm riders while still providing value to the local community.
A self-service system similar to Google AdWords would work well for this transit audio advertising network. Pick your time, your station(s), etc and place your bid. Other factors would have to be taken into account as well to make sure a variety of businesses were able to get in on the action.
You already have to listen to other people’s music on the subway so why not listen to some brief ads that keep our fares low and might actually provide real local value.
In related transit news, FourSquare and BART announced a partnership today.
As a railfan, it’s so exciting to see the major transit systems across the U.S. starting to embrace technology.
Swiss-based Dixero has announced that they have raised a new round of funding in the amount of 1.5 million Euros. This brings their total funding to 3 million Euros. Last week Dixero announced the opening of an office in Silicon Valley.
Dixero provides a way to take RSS feeds and convert them to audio so that you can listen to your favorite feeds instead of reading them in a "traditional" sense. Dixero offers three "audio personalities", Lois, Luke and Claire so that you can vary the voice that you hear for different feeds. It can help with differentiation from one feed to the next.
Here’s an example of the Dixero audio conversion – it sounds "computerized" (it looks like you need some sort of xml plugin – IE is asking me to install something for this to play):
Here’s the 20-second pitch Dixero provided earlier this month in Zurich:
Vocaroo is a new startup currently in alpha-mode which allows you to record audio messages and then share them online. Vocaroo reminds me a lot of another startup we reviewed this week, 12seconds. It’s super simple to record an audio message, just click record and then speak into your microphone.
When you have completed your recording, you can either listen to it or share. The sharing option allows you to embed the recording on another site or share/email the direct link to the audio. I guess you could call Vocaroo the audio Twitter.
I’d like to see more sharing options — direct posting links to Facebook, MySpace, etc. A recording bar would help along with a mic volume level slider. And they say that they are working on a user profile which will allow you to store and manage your audio recordings. I guess right now once you record something, there’s no way to delete it.
I love simple utilities like this – and while I would add some additional functions to it, it’s important to keep it simple for maximum effectiveness. It’s the perfect tool to send a quick love note now to your sweetie.
The Vocaroo team has created a cute help page which includes nuggets like:
- If nuclear war occurs because a Vocaroo message gets lost in the ether, it’s not our fault.
- By using this service you agree that your first born child will belong to us.
- Your personal details won’t be shared, blah blah blah. Your infos are safe with us.
- Cookies: As with most sites on the internet, tasty chocolate chip cookies are stored on your computer containing login information and suchlike. Mmmm.
Here’s an example audio recording (my computer sucks for audio/video so the sound might be off):
PimpMyNews has announced two product updates this morning: more available blogs and a new Twitter integration. PimpMyNews takes a feed and converts it to audio using a computerized voice. The service allows you to grab your favorite blogs and take them with you into iTunes or mp3.
Over 500,000 audio clips are available and the service has expanded to the top 1,000 blogs. PimpMyNews reports that users from over 149 countries have used the service. You can also now create a twitter message with the audio news clips you are currently listening to.
I’d link to the CenterNetworks page but there appears to be no way to do that. An embed would also be nice. Check out our interview with PimpMyNews founder John Atkinson.