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Interactive Billboards Let You Experience the Sounds of Faraway Cities

A new series of travel ads has pedestrians using their headphones to engage with the world, rather than block it out.

image via youtube screen capture

When we travel to a new city for the first time, we often tell our friends back home that we’re “off to see the sights.” But, in truth, “the sights” represent just a slim wedge on the spectrum of senses with which we fully take in a new locale. Travel is more than just a visual experience. To really explore someplace new, we must also inhale new scents, taste new foods, and hear the ambient noises of a wholly different environment than what we’re used to.


It’s that last sense, hearing, which European train operator Thalys hopes they can use to entice travelers into riding the rails to cities serviced by the company. To do so, they’ve created a series of interactive billboards which allow anyone to experience thousands of everyday noises from Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels. The signs, dubbed “Sounds of the City,” are covered in dozens of audio outlets, into which passers by can plug their personal headphones and hear anything from bicycle wheels spinning, to couples making love, all recorded on-site in the city being advertised.

Explains Thalys: “Headphones are often used to block out a city. With Thalys Sounds of the City, they were an opportunity to rediscover one.”

The “Sounds of the City” series is just the latest in the trend toward street ads that move beyond simply broadcasting a message, and instead offer a more complete experience. But while other interactive billboards have hocked discrete products, or specific shopping opportunities, Thalys’ ads are something different—an ambient auditory glimpse at the larger world. And for some, perhaps, it’s a first step toward experiencing someplace new, where they can use all their senses, instead of just one.

[via psfk]

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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