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The New Eco-friendly Advertising Tool Which Gives an Alternative Real-Time Outdoor Advertising Media for SMEs

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Reducing billboard advertising waste

Giant posters and billboards are a major advertising tool globally mainly operated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A new technology offers economic and environmental advantages.

Industrial Technologies

In Europe alone there are between 2 and 8 million billboards displayed at any given time and this number is constantly growing. Every 2 weeks, over 6 million square metres of poster paper are thrown out. The paper is not recycled, the ink is not eco-friendly, and the glue used is toxic. Due to this, billboard advertising has a disastrous effect on the environment, and this issue needs to be addressed. The EU-funded ECOBOARD project has produced a cost-effective and environmentally friendly real-time outdoor media tool. It is able to produce the same visual effect as a paper-based billboard, but without the use of polluting paper, ink and glue. Furthermore, the proposed system can boost the competitiveness of the advertising industry for SMEs by reducing the time and the cost of advert implementation as there is no need to print. The first steps in the research involved evaluating and selecting rolling-foil materials to display colours, then designing and integrating these into 8*8 mm pixels. These were then arranged in modules — for example, 30*30 pixels — that could be combined to produce a pixellated, paperless billboard. Each module contains a movable motor to switch pixel foil colours individually. The final step was the integration of all the components, including the housing. For a half-metre–square billboard, some 100 000 individual components were needed. As part of the dissemination activities, a portable mini-board called ECODRIVE was developed to demonstrate the technology. The project also demonstrated computer control of the pixels via an Iinternet connection. ECOBOARD SME partners are investigating the exploitation potential of this new technology, including production, marketing and distribution. When implemented, it will contribute substantially to reducing the pollution and landfill arising from billboard advertising.

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