A prototype developed by a Seattle-area tech startup called Footmarks uses Bluetooth LE (low-energy) technology to let advertisers transmit data from outdoor advertisements to consumer devices — such as smartphones in cars whizzing by billboards on the highway.

Preston Reed

The idea is to give those outdoor advertisers a much better sense for who is viewing their ads at any given moment, by aggregating the data from consumers who opt in to the program by installing an app on their phone.

Those consumers, in turn, will receive information about the ads and also incentives such as coupons and other promotions from the participating advertisers. The company says the link can be established at up to 400 feet, and drivers can look at the app after they’ve stopped driving to view the stored information.

It’s called SmartConnect, and it’s one of the emerging technologies being shown by the startup this week at the Consumer Electronics Show down in Las Vegas. Footmarks, based in Redmond, is exhibiting in the “Eureka Park” section of the show dedicated to emerging technologies and startups.

Footmarks, which has been bootstrapped so far, is exhibiting at the show to gauge reaction to its upcoming products and make connections with potential customers, partners and investors.

“Its going to allow us to see the reaction from people and really just gather information,” said CEO Preston Reed, who co-founded the company with Boeing and Washington State University computer science alums Casey and Skylar Graika.

SmartConnect uses dedicated tags that transmit the data. The company has patents pending on its technology.

The company is also showing its Tap Pad technology, which uses Near Field Communication and QR codes to transmit data in retail and other business settings. Footmarks is also developing an underlying social network to help consumers share information such as recommended service providers.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/scottmoore.seattle Scott Moore

    That sounds like a terrible idea. Do people really want ads on their phones from devices that they happen to be near? I just can’t imagine people actually wanting this. I’m sure the marketers like it, but I don’t see it. Then again, people on Facebook are “liking” Walmart and Target, so who knows.

    • Preston

      I can appreciate your initial reaction as one that is annoyed with intrusive advertising methods. I can assure you that the technology we are developing is not intrusive and will not pop up ads on your phone. It’s a value exchange between the marketer and consumer. If you see a billboard for your favorite musician and can download their latest hit for free while having the chance to win front row seats, your’re likely to want to know more. Our technology eliminates the need to remember web addresses and contact information. If you pass a billboard for a mattress company and you’re not interested, you keep on going about your day. Our network is about making new connections based on your interests by making it easy to get more info when you want it. This is just the beginning of a positive value exchange for both the consumer and marketer.

      • http://twitter.com/fijiaaron Aaron Evans

        How do you know they’re my favorite band?

        • Preston

          You would only open the Footmarks app if you were interested in the content being broadcasted from the billboard, dynamic display, or vehicle. So, we know that it’s your favorite band because you asked us to provide you more information by opening the application.

          If you see a U2 billboard, you may just ignore it. If you see a Black Eyed Peas billboard (if it’s your favorite band), you would open the application and the content would be there for you to review. It’s your choice. It’s designed to not be intrusive to your mobile life. We are focusing on a value exchange, where the consumer receives something of value rather than just some random ad.

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