Rail tunnel ads to make home debut

A UK company that has developed a computer-controlled system for showing ads in train carriage windows hopes to make its domestic debut later this year.

MotionPoster uses a combination of engineering, software and ISDN technology to turn stretches of railway tunnel into silent video billboards.

The system uses a series of back-lit panels fixed to the walls of the tunnel. Sensors detect when a train is approaching and how fast it is travelling.

MotionPoster’s software processes the information to light each panel for a fraction of a second, freezing the image exactly in the centre of the train’s windows. The sequence of illuminations combined with the movement of the train offer passengers the effect of watching a seven-second film.

Metro Santiago this week placed an order for installation of MotionPoster’s system on two lines in the Chilean capital, giving the UK company its first contract in South America.

Other customers include metros in Milan, Budapest, Seoul, Valencia and Athens, but Oxfordshire-based MotionPoster has so far been frustrated in its efforts to install the system on a domestic line.

However, chairman Michael Pelham said talks with several rail operators and regional metros had reached an advanced stage. ‘We are hopeful of seeing MotionPoster operating in the UK by the middle of this year,’ said Pelham.

Engineers at London Underground, its most obvious potential customer, have carried out satisfactory trials of MotionPoster on a disused stretch of line between Holborn and Aldwych.

‘The feedback from the testing site has been positive, but there are clearly major organisational issues to be sorted out,’ said Pelham.

Mark Johnson, MotionPoster’s group engineer, said the picture was surprisingly good. ‘The image is actually better quality than TV,’ he said.

Johnson said that installing the system in the tunnels was relatively straightforward. ‘We train local teams to do it for us, and once they know how, installation usually takes place in five nights,’ he said.

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