Remote autograph-signing thingdoodle to be demo’d at DSE

The only thing that would get me lining up for a signature from a celebrity would be a decent-sized cheque made out in my name, but I realize there is a whole big and breathless world out there of people who covet autographs of pro athletes and other celebrities.

It is for these people that something called LongPen was created — technology that lets celebrities sign stuff like photos and books without being on site — ever scanning the line trying to sort out the nice majority from the stalkers and other assorted nutbars.

When I think about it, it actually is no surprise that famed Canuck author Margaret Atwood cane up with this concept – given that she’s probably been on too many book signing tours and seen just about everything.

Interestingly, this technology is seen to have a good fit in retail and other public spaces with digital signage – though I think it has more to do with the available of big-ass screens on site than with software.

The premise, to be demo’d at the DSE show by Unotchit, the Toronto company that worked with Atwood and came up with LongPen, is to use the screen technology to have two-way videoconferences and signing sessions between celebs and fans. The company will have a couple of people (loosely) associated with the Dallas Cowboys signing photo book, while still sitting in Dallas.

According to a press release sent to me in PDF format (sorry, can’t link to my email):

Retailers can greatly expand their event offering, making the retail store or other public gathering places a destination where fans can interact with their favourite authors, musicians, actors, athletes, performers and other celebrities. By using LongPen, brands and retailers that use spokespersons and celebrity endorsements can dramatically increase celebrity-fan interaction while reducing the travel, time requirements, handling and health or safety risks to their celebrity spokespersons.

Digital Signage network operators benefit from new functionality and revenues made possible through LongPen events. Pre-event promotion, and display ads during and after signing events are attractive to advertisers seeking to reach audiences. LongPen allows network operators to access sponsorship and promotional budgets, while positively impacting in-store traffic volumes and increasing viewing ratios.

So ideally, your software allows you to cut over to a video feed, and then jumps out of it at the desired time to go back to what it normally does in that venue.

As much as autograph and book-signing stuff is not my thing, I’ve seen the crowds and can imagine the tie-in. I can also imagine, if this gets traction, that retailers (particularly in book, music and sports retailers) are going to want their software to be compliant.

If I actually slip my chains and get away from the booth for more than a bio-break, I’ll have a look at DSE.

UPDATE: MediaPost had a bit this morning about LongPen also being unveiled at a new Borders concept store in Ann Arbor, Michigan this weekend:

On Sunday, internationally acclaimed author, Margaret Atwood, the inventor of a revolutionary new technology called LongPen, will sign her latest book, Moral Disorder, from Toronto.

LongPen makes it possible to host a live book discussion and signing with an author who is not physically present in the store. Video conferencing allows the author and readers to see and speak to each other in real time as they would in person. Via LongPen, authors can autograph books through an electronic impulse sent via the Internet to a signing implement in the store. The new Borders concept store in Ann Arbor is the first retailer in the nation to feature LongPen.

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