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R/GA, Verizon use Times Square digital billboards to launch DROID

Two of Times Square’s most prominent digital billboards are being used to promote the launch of the new DROID mobile device. R/GA partnered with Verizon Wireless to create “DROID Does Times Square,” an interactive campaign to showcase the phone’s built-in, location-based voice-search feature.

“DROID Does Times Square” features actual DROID devices and Android 2.0 mobile software embedded into the system.

“Despite all the commotion and background noise in Times Square, DROID’s recognition results are excellent,” said John Mayo-Smith, chief technology officer for R/GA. “Over the years, R/GA has developed technology that enables many interactive experiences in Times Square, but this one is pushing the boundaries — DROID walks the walk.”

To make the experience happen, R/GA worked with Google’s leading voice-search engineers to create a special language model that understands the DROID campaign “dialect,” including several dozen unique “DROID Does” expressions. In addition to creating custom rendering and interactive voice-response software, R/GA also created custom software running on Android 2.0, which links Google voice-recognition servers to the synchronized multisign event in Times Square. 

For this particular engagement, R/GA also embedded secret voice commands (“Easter Eggs”) into the back-end functionality, which trigger spectacular animations, such as recreating speeding subway trains, color splashes and the ability to turn the signs on and off.

How it works

To interact with the experience, anyone can call the toll-free number (1-888-376-4336) to search locations in the Times Square area. Participants can search for anything they want, such as their favorite cuisine, plays, movies or stores. The search results are then displayed on the Nasdaq sign through Google Maps. After callers are finished, they receive an SMS message directing them to the nearest Verizon Wireless Communications store, where they can purchase a DROID. The voice-activated experience serves as a large-scale simulation of DROID’s built-in voice search.