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Forever 21 dazzles Times Square with interactive billboard


New York City A state-of-the-art interactive billboard on top of Forever 21’s massive new flagship in Times Square is causing passersby to stop dead in their tracks.

A complex program of interactive, real-time digital content makes the billboard among the most visually dynamic in Times Square. The program, from space150, a Minneapolis-based digital communications firm, uses computer vision technology to allow larger-than-life onscreen Forever 21 models to interact with passersby on the streets below. The virtual models snap Polaroids of shoppers on the store below and instantly show the photo onscreen. Or the models are shown picking people up and tucking them under their hat or dropping them into a Forever 21 shopping bag.

To create the content, space150 is using a Prosilica camera, normally used only in high-tech surveillance, to capture action on the streets and translate it to real-time onscreen content. The camera is mounted to the top of the 61-ft.-high digital billboard and trained on passersby and consumers on the street below. Newly emerging computer vision technology first identifies people watching the billboard below and then, in near real time, builds a composite image of them for use in the simulation.

"It's an over-used expression, but this really is cutting-edge technology," said James Squires, director technology, space150. "Computer vision is an emerging discipline that allows computers to mimic biological vision in as close to real time as possible.”

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