INTOUCH: Waikato Engineering Student Takes Message To The Streets

A new advertising device recently trialled outside one Hamilton store certainly had few passers-by doing double-take.
People walking past R&R Sport on the city’s main street were treated to recorded promotion for kayaks as they triggered movement sensor in the free-standing signboard.
The ‘active advertising’ device has been developed by University of Waikato student Steven Kane during summer work placement at local electronic product developer Novel Ways.
The display stand also incorporates radio, voice module that holds up to six messages, an audio amplifier and transmitter that allows staff inside the shop to monitor foot traffic passed the device.
“The big challenge was starting with just an idea and ending up with something that worked – all in 10 weeks,” says Kane, former Hamilton Boys’ High student who’s now in his Bachelor of Engineering honours year at Waikato, majoring in electronics.
During his placement, funded through government Technology Internship, Kane had to research and develop components and devices, and learn how to program so he could build the whole circuit. “Then I had to build it again after lot of modifications!”
R&R Sport manager Wayne Addison is certainly impressed. “When Steven approached me to trial the device, I was definitely interested. We’re always looking at new ideas for getting customers through the door.”
Addison says the response has been positive so far. “It’s certainly brought people in the door to look at kayaks,” he says. “Advertising is always difficult to measure – you don’t know if you’re getting value for money. The cool thing about this device is that someone can walk in and say ‘I heard the message’.”
Novel Ways director Graham Lynch says Kane has done great job, and he’s currently applying for patent for the device. “If we think there might be market for new product, we’ll give it go,” he says. “We’re aiming it at bigger retailers, ones who’ve already got their own radio ads and posters. It’s way for them to ‘top up’ their advertising using what they’ve already got.”

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