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BarCast connects with the university crowd

Visitors to 51 (and counting) bars, pubs and restaurants in Boston, Massachusetts are using their mobile phones to interact with a text- and picture-message-enabled signage system called BarCast. Launched by a Boston-based company of the same name, the service uses technology from another local company -- Aerva -- which has previously supplied a text-message version of its software to Digipub, an Irish company that supplies cellular-interaction signage systems for bars in Ireland.

Sanjay Manandhar, Aerva's chief technology officer, told that the technology behind the Digipub project in Ireland, which started life in 2003, has been enhanced for the BarCast network, which has proven very popular with patrons in Boston. Interactive features include picture uploads and voting by text message.

"The service is popular in the Boston area mainly, I think, because of the number of universities here. BarCast users tend to be young people who are used to using their mobiles to interact with each other, so interacting with a signage system to leave messages for other patrons is a natural evolution," he said.

Rather than offer a complete signage system to clients, Manandhar said that Aerva is a software supplier providing signage companies with a interactive solution they can offer their customers. "We make money from three sources -- as do our intermediaries: firstly from the sale of the software, secondly from the ad revenue and thirdly, and most importantly, from a revenue share on the text messages sent from the patron's mobile," he said.

Manandhar added that Aerva does not sell advertising, but leaves that task to intermediaries.

"We're now looking to expand our interactive signage systems to other cities across the U.S.," he said, adding that the company is also looking for more partners and will be exhibiting at Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas on 27 and 28 February.

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