Close-up van MegaPhone music gameAlthough yesterday’s Mobile Monday was mostly about Mobile Games of the type you play on your cell phone to kill the time while you’re bored on a train home, there was an unexpected contribution from the world of Digital Signage that really stole the show: MegaPhone.

MegaPhone logo

From a small company based in New York, Jury Hahn and Cristopher Kairalla, together with a multidisciplinary team of techies and artists, make interactive billboards and games that are controlled by a mobile telephone.

Awesome crazy dial-in phone games at #momoTheir argumentation is solid: normal people don’t trust SMS based services one bit, have no idea how Bluetooth works and rarely have a shiny smartphone in their pockets. Still, interactivity is important: otherwise you might as well put up a static poster instead of an expensive plasma screen, LED wall or beamer. Their solution: dial in via the good old telephone line and use your telephone’s numeric keys as controls for the screen. A true egg of Columbus.

There are applications aplenty: we saw karaoke games, music composing games, games that used speech as input etc. Because everyone uses their own phone to play on a single screen, the technology is inherently suitable for multiplayer use. As always, video tells more than a thousand words, so lucky for me I was sitting next to Elger, who could finally put his new camera to good use:

Having an iPhone, by the way, is hardly an advantage in this case: the lack of real, physical buttons and thus of tactile feedback, requires you to continuously look at your fingers instead of at the screen. Also, the iPhone doesn’t send the keys directly over the line as you press them, resulting in a significant lag when playing. In this case, you’re better of with a good old Nokia 3210 ;)

What’s so great about MegaPhone, in my opinion, is that contrary to what al too often happens with this kind of technology, it is out there. It has actually been used on a number of occasions, during very large events. People already dialed in with their phones during sports games, drive in tours and during promotional campaigns on a huge screen in the middle of Times Square. It’s only a matter of time until this is a common sight during concerts.

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