Textually.com reports on a new interactive billboard installed by Yahoo! to promote their reworked auto site. The full article is at AdWeek, but it does little to answer my main question. The sign looks like a pretty cool idea. It’ll certainly attract some attention, and it’s novel enough that people might visit it just to see how it comes off. But there are mentions of RFIB in both the excerpt and in the longer article. How is RFIB being used for the Yahoo! application? I get the impression it isn’t being used at all. It seems like it’s just something that the sign maker wants to pimp:

The company’s sign technology, called RFIB and similar to toll roads’ Easy-Pass systems, could be expanded to customized billboards in the near future, according to John Mayo-Smith, vice president of technology at R/GA. For example, a digital billboard might be programmed to have a different image depending on whether a car or a motorcycle passed it.

Hmm.. interesting technology to drag out during the International Automotive Show. Are they there to try to get manufacturers to embed RFIB tags in new models so that advertising can be targeted at vehicles as they pass? Makes too much sense to be ignored. With everyone screaming about RFID being used in retail locations for the items they’re purchasing, I can’t see anyone being to happy about getting a tracking device embedded in their vehicle. Passive RFID tags work over VERY short range (for most of the tags being used in retail applications, about 1 meter), however the EZpass style tags work over much longer range. And if they’re talking about using a read from the tag to drive a creative on a sign by the side of the road, I have to imagine that the read range is measured in tens of meters.

So what exactly is RFIB? A Google search for the term “RFIB” yeilded nothing that seemed to be related. The R/GA corporate website, a flash site with no alternative view that I could find, yeilded no useful info. There might be some info in there, but there’s no search function and the site is structured to assure that no external searches work. If you want a nefarious tracking application to rally against, I would pick this one. That said, I still think the interactive billboard is a pretty cool idea. I’m just not sure that I like the RFIB aspect of it. Especially if someone is out there lobbying automakers to install it without making any of the details public.