Digital billboards in Times Square, New York

American Eagle and Forever 21’s digital billboards in New York might have been written about numerous times before, but seeing them firsthand is quite another experience, so I couldn’t help but get my camera out.

Forever 21's interactive billboard at Times Square

Forever 21’s is the epitome of interactive. Using high-tech surveillance equipment and computer vision technology, it plays on the notion of vanity (who doesn’t like to see themselves on a 61-foot screen) to form a real-time image of the crowd.

A super-sized virtual model can be seen taking a Polaroid photo of onlookers before showing it to them once developed; picking up an individual and either turning him into a frog by a kiss or dropping him into a shopping bag; or placing a magnifying glass over certain groups.

The campaign, created by interactive agency Space150, even picks up on the yellow of the Forever 21 bag, to specifically pick out those that have shopped in the store. Bearing in mind consumers look at billboards for an average of six seconds normally, this one definitely has people captured for a couple of minutes at a time – and that’s a whole year after it first launched.

Check out the video, below:

Meanwhile, American Eagle’s similarly taps into the “15 seconds of fame” idea. It’s been about for a little while longer (first trialled in November 2009), but continues to fare well. Anyone who buys something in store can opt to have both their photo and a message posted to the multiple giant screens, some 25-storeys high, outside.

It all happens within 15 minutes so there’s not too much hanging around in the meantime, but while you wait, there’s also conveniently a rotation of all the current campaign shots too.

Check out the below slideshow of examples:

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And a couple of other related things I loved…

The fashion ads from Pepsi for its new skinny can, also in Times Square:

Clinique’s digital vending machines at JFK airport: