If you’ve ever wanted to play a game with random strangers in the middle of Times Square, your prayers were briefly answered on September 8th and 9th.
With the Mega Screen Billboard on 1500 Broadway and West 43 Street in Manhattan, bystanders could scan a QR code with their smartphones to participate as an “interactive viewer” in the 2020 co-op game Bake ‘n Switch from Streamline Studios. Those who did so could jump in and play any part of the game without having to download or install it.
This was part of a public test of Project Monarch, a prototype that combines digital billboards with mobile games over 5G to create what its organizers call “mobile crowd gaming”. Project Monarch technology could turn billboards into interactive events. Imagine an ad that you could pick up on your phone and play with three quarters of a million people and you will get an idea of what it means. (Between this one and the one with the hoverboard, Times Square is becoming a pretty random tech hub lately.)
Project Monarch technology could turn billboards into interactive events.
Project Monarch is a collaboration between several groups including the following: Streamline Media Group, a metaverse-focused developer who released Bake ‘n Switch via its gaming imprint last year; Genvid, which creates a toolset for creating interactive live streams; Outfront Media, which owns the Times Square billboard; Intel, which brought its Smart Edge technology to the project; and Sky Packets, which provided a 5G connected hotspot that allowed users to connect to Project Monarch.
“Interactivity dominates virtually every type of media, and this experiment proves that even the most cutting-edge digital billboards can be reinvented,” said Jacob Navok, co-founder and CEO of Genvid Technologies, in a press release. “With our interactive livestream technology and Intel’s advanced 5G network platforms, advertisers and brand sponsors can easily and dynamically deliver more engaging, fun content that consumers not only remember, but enjoy right away.”
During the Project Monarch test, up to six randomly selected participants could be tagged to aid one of the two Bake ‘n Switch players with three interactive viewers on each player page. Each round of the mini-game played lasted five minutes and ended with both players and spectators tapping their screens to increase a point multiplier.
In theory, as Genvid argues, Monarch’s technology could be used to turn virtually any type of digital broadcast into an interactive event where viewers can step into the on-screen action and participate.
Genvid claims a larger Monarch deployment could have 750,000 concurrent users. For comparison, at the time of this writing, theoretically more people are playing an interactive ad than Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Steam.
Genvid claims a larger Monarch deployment could have 750,000 concurrent users.
“Streamline is continuously working on projects and partnerships that advance the gaming industry,” said Alexander Fernandez, CEO of Streamline Media Group, in Genvid’s press release. “We believe that the best way to accelerate the digital transformation of businesses and industries is by leveraging video game technologies and skills. Streamline is always ready and able to innovate global consumer experiences with forward-thinking partners. “