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Would you be ready for ads flanking the Moon?

We have technology to place ads in the sky, really up in the sky. Not sure I am ready for this. Image credit: StartRocket

This past week was the Perseid Meteor week, the time of the year when we look up to the sky to see falling meteors grazing the atmosphere leaving behind a luminous trace.

I still remember in my youth waiting for this week, in Italy we call them “stelle cadenti”, falling stars, and each one you spot signals a wish that will come true…

At other times of the year we need to be contented with our Milky Way galaxy and the Moon that being so close to us dominates the night sky. Plenty of poets have sung to the Moon, I still can recite Leopardi’s Night song of a wandering shepherd in Asia:

Why are you there, moon, in the sky? Tell me
Why are you there, silent moon?
….
Why this flashback? That’s because I stumble onto a startup, StarRocket, that is planning an up in the sky satellite constellation that would allow companies to advertise their logos and products to people all over the world by placing it in the night sky, competing with the Moon for people’s eyeballs.
The idea was socialised two years ago and at that time the plan was to have cube satellites in place during 2021, each one able to display a reflective sail that would capture 280 miles up in the sky the light from the Sun and redirect it to Earth like a pixel in the sky. By orchestrating the cube sats position it should be possible to create any logo up in the sky, visible during the night everywhere on the planet.

I haven’t been able to track any progress and, being of old age, I am still in favour of keeping the night sky as it has been throughout my life.

An alternative approach to Space Ads comes from a Canadian start up, Geometric Energy Corporation. They have teamed up with SpaceX to send cube sats up in the sky equipped with a screen that can display images (like logos, products…) beamed up from Earth and use a camera to take “selfies” of those displays with the Earth in the background sending the image/clip back to Earth on a YouTube channel. Still ads up in the sky but way less intrusive!

What about you? Would you be interested to place up in the sky, maybe, an “I love you” to impress your darling? I’ll stick to roses.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.

One comment

  1. Thanks for this interesting article Roberto. It should be up to society to decide if such advertising should be allowed or not. This would be one step closer a Blade Runner-reality. Another use case would be, of course, military propaganda.