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Bringing 24-hour interactivity to retail windows

PHOENIX--If you've ever stopped to browse real estate listings in a window and wanted more information about some of the houses on display, LocaModa may have an answer for you.

At Demo '06 here Wednesday, the Somerville, Mass., company showed off its StreetSurfer technology, which turns cell phones into remote controls.

The idea is that real estate agents could install large monitors in their street-level windows that display a series of houses or condominiums. People interested in the real estate on display could then use their mobile phones to select a house or houses they're interested in. By punching in a few keys on the phone, the display would change, depending on what they asked for.

Thus, agents would be able to provide an interactive service to potential customers 24 hours a day and wouldn't be required to have someone on hand to offer up specifics.

Similarly, LocaModa's Street Messenger technology is designed to let cafes and other retail or food service stores attract customers with an interactive display to which they could post text messages from their cell phones. The messages could then be seen by anyone in the immediate area or by anyone visiting the company's Web site.

It's less clear how useful that service would be, but the StreetSurfer seems primed to offer real estate agents a significant new way to attract customers, and LocaModa said it plans to make the technology available to other kinds of businesses in the future as well.