Covid-19: Ocean Outdoor to introduce touchless ad screen technology

Digital out of home (DOOH) media owner Ocean Outdoor has today (18 May) announced plans to introduce touchless advertising screens across the UK, using new technology that will enable the company to replace its touchscreen deployments.

Ocean will be deploying Ultraleap’s mid-air haptics technology to DOOH, meaning its displays and interfaces – used by brands and retailers to market their promotional campaigns – can be triggered by natural hand interactions.

In what is a direct response to potential consumer hygiene preferences in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, the DOOH player said it will be integrating the new tech into screens in key experiential spaces. Ultimately, it will allow those using the screens to trigger or control content using hand gestures instead of physically touching surfaces.

The new screens will appear across Ocean’s premium retail and city centre portfolio.

Director of Ocean Labs, Catherine Morgan, noted: “The introduction of touchless screen technology across our portfolio is timely. 

“People are understandably cautious about using any kind of touchscreen technology in public places. Haptics is an ideal solution. It is hygienic, safe and will add a whole new dimension to Ocean’s experiential offer and immersive brand experiences.”

She added: “Post the coronavirus lockdown, consumers will be craving positive connections, so brands who create the all-important wow factor will get greater cut through to emotionally resonate with audiences during this highly charged time, providing the potential to exponentially grow market share.”

According to Ultraleap, its ‘virtual touch’ technology uses hand tracking and ultrasound to create sensations on a user’s hand to simulate the sense of touch.

Meanwhile, Ocean announced last week that hundreds of small to medium-sized (SME) businesses and retailers have benefited from its out of home (OOH) advertising fund, which launched at the start of April to help cover costs of ads and stimulate SME promotional activity in the crisis.

One month on, the fund closed having allocated £14 million of OOH ad space across Ocean’s network to SMEs and retailers. Organisations in food and beverage, direct to consumer, health and wellness, leisure, tech, and B2B all took advantage of the offer, and their campaigns will be on digital screens across 12 major UK cities until June.