The 21st century sandwich board.

If you’re a fan of the Canadian sci-fi show Continuum, you’ll know the hero in the show, 2077-era police officer Kiera Cameron (played by Rachel Nichols) wears a cool suit that’s combination computer, ballistic armor, taser, cloaking device and – most importantly for our purposes – LED display. Advertising people would naturally see the possibilities of clothing that could display messages. And guess what: that possibility just got one step closer with this prototype for a programmable LED t-shirt.

Just as a flash mob involves masses of people performing a single action in unison, one could see how an advertiser could display a single message on hundreds of t-shirts across a city, reaching people in places other outdoor advertising can’t. Say you’re the beverage supplier at an outdoor concert and you want to let the audience know where to get your products – or that there’s a special on between sets. T-shirts interspersed throughout the crowd could be your advertising vehicle.

Or one could add a location-based element to the technology, and have t-shirts on a bus route let commuters know that they’re approaching a particular brand of coffee shop or fast food outlet as the bus gets within a certain distance.

Perhaps a brand could give away such t-shirts as a promotion, with the shirt programmed to include the brand logo in whatever image the wearer decided to display.

As with today’s sandwich boards, people would begin to tune out before long – unless the message was interesting or useful enough. And when it is, you’d have a nice way to extend your reach to virtually anywhere there are people.

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