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Location-aware displays haven’t exactly set the world on fire. In fact, they’re downright ridiculed in Terry Gilliam’s “The Zero Theorem,” where the ads always drive a dramatically incorrect message to passers-by, never pushing the right product to the fleeting target.

Today, NewAer is launching Kiosk — a proximity-based, beacon-free solution that turns an iPad, 4th generation Apple TV, or Raspberry Pi 3 into a fully customizable marketing portal. This launch is part of an effort to make personalized display solutions available to marketers everywhere.

I saw Kiosk in action at the Lufthansa Innovation Hub in Berlin and spoke with Dave Mathews, CEO and founder of NewAer.

While other location-aware solutions tend to rely on smart beacons and native apps, NewAer’s Kiosk uses neither. The big idea is to make proximity marketing as easy as web development, using the technology already built into most smartphones.

As Mathews puts it, “This is a cookie for the real world and is as powerful as a web cookie is online.”

So how does it work, and what can it do?

When a consumer approaches a Kiosk-powered device, the system asks for permission to personalize the content, which builds trust between the user and the brand. For example, an airline could offer personalized assistance throughout the traveler’s journey, helping them plan and enjoy their visit. When users who have bought tickets and accepted personalized recommendations arrive at their destination, they can walk to a screen and automatically see personalized messages, hotels, recommended stops, and suggested actions, such as calling an Uber directly from the display.

I saw that last example in action, and it works seamlessly. Once you select your desired destination at the airport, the Uber request is synced to your phone immediately — no need to search for the address, type it in, and request a car.

Kiosk is powered by NewAer’s patented Proximity Platform, which allows for location-based marketing that uses Bluetooth Smart — also called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) — using software running on standard mobile devices. And NewAer also offers an SDK that allows retailers, or service providers with native applications, to take advantage of the platform.

So what do mobile web and native app developers need to do to implement this technology?

“Since Kiosk is an application, it is easy to apply existing web content to the engine, although a database or CRM system really helps it uniquely message a nearby customer,” Mathews said. And how long does it take to implement? “We’ve seen people develop web applications in half a day, versus the day or longer it takes to build a native proximity app within mobile environments.”

Importantly, by leveraging cost-effective display systems, NewAer is putting proximity-aware display advertising and customer support in the hands of almost any business.

“The latest Apple TV, currently selling for $149 USD, offers the least expensive deployment for interactive displays without needing iBeacons or pushing unsolicited alerts to user’s devices,” Mathews said. “Whether you use a large screen with Apple TV or an iPad Mini at a point of purchase, we have created proximity marketing as a service through a universal application.”

Apple TV and iPad aren’t the only options.

“We’re concentrating on Apple TV and iPads now, as they are ubiquitous and have a very complex Bluetooth Low Energy stack (chipset and software support), but our technology also runs on the new Raspberry Pi 3, which includes a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chipset,” Mathews said.

Of course, research suggests that personalized in-store display advertising hasn’t really caught on yet.

“We think that the first generation of personalized messaging was invasive, with cameras, or spammy with iBeacons,” Mathews said. “Our technology acts more like a cookie does online — you can disable it or let it work for you.”

Permission and control are both important when it comes to personalization, as I discovered when I studied consumer attitudes toward customized marketing. Kiosk ticks that box, but Mathews believes that the technology will increase in adoption through utility, not pushy marketing.

“Our partners are building value-added experiences, versus direct marketing ones,” Mathews said. “For example, Unilever brought friends together using our technology and marketed to them next. Lufthansa is building experiences around connecting families when they travel today and easing the stress of travel in the future.”

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Los Angeles, NewAer has a number of investors, including Intel Capital and Deutsche Telekom Ventures. To date, NewAer has licensed or partnered its solution with Lufthansa, Unilever, Intel, Deutsche Telekom, and Alcatel-Lucent.

Kiosk is available from today.

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