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Interactive Taxi is an advertising/technology blitz being run by Global Vision Interactive.

The basic premise of advertising placement is simple - find a place where people are stuck (hopefully bored) for an extended period of time and bombard them with ads for as many products as you physically can until they are given the opportunity to leave. Subways are great for this, as are congested motorways, movie theaters and television. The Interactive Taxi, while brilliant in a "why didn't I think of that?" way, is also a sign that the invention to have the greatest impact on the landscape of the twenty-first century will be the LCD.

Global Vision had the wonderful idea of mounting an LCD touch screen in the back of New York City taxis. The screen shows ads (surprise!) - usually movie and television trailers. Because no one in their right mind would accept that without some added value features (or at least without the appearance of them), the screen also gives the passenger access to exactly what they would get by watching the eleven o'clock local news or by logging into AOL: simplified international news, a bit of schadenfreude and sports and weather. The ads are prime time network spots: some good, but if you watch an hour of TV a day it's guaranteed you've seen them before. When a category of information is chosen, whatever ad is currently running scales to two-thirds size so as not to be obscured by the menu of additional choices that pops out of the side of the screen. How sweet of them.

What amazed me as I was playing with it was that you can , unbelievably, turn it off- there's an icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen to access screen saver mode. Before you jump to conclusions about the screensaver being a slideshow of movie posters or something I should say that it's pretty unobtrusive - the Interactive Taxi logo bounces around the screen. It was quite a relief when I found it (and I did have to look for it - don't for one second think they made tuning out easy: the screen saver icon is a tiny line of text marked "dimmer" beneath the date and time) and managed to kill my encroaching buzz of claustrophobia.

If you ever come across one of these things, do yourself a favor: take the ubiquitous survey they ask you to and turn the damn thing off.

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