There’s Twitter and Facebook, not to mention a vast variety of social chat apps. But what if you could go really large, using mega-public spaces like billboards and building walls to post messages and communicate with a general audience of people who don’t know or follow you?
That’s the idea behind Deehubs, a social network-slash-advertising-slash-art platform that uses flat building surfaces — soon augmented with electronic billboards — to post tweets in public places.
Starting in Seattle, Dubai-based Deehubs aims to expand the project’s reach to 25 major cities across the US, and is currently financing the trip with a $6,000 Indiegogo fundraising campaign.
While Deehubs has the earmarks of a social network, its founder views it equally as an artistic communications medium that uses American city streets as the stage. “We believe that with Deehubs, cities are becoming a new beautiful feed,” said Bakar Maruashvili, CEO of Deehubs. “In this vision, the crucial word is ‘beautiful,’ and this new feed is not for the individual but for everyone.”
Deehubs posts personal messages, portraits, opinions, famous quotes, visual arts and entertainment topics. Commercial messages are part of the company’s plan, too, and those will begin in June. In case you missed any public messages, the Deehubs site makes all posts available for viewing online at anytime.
In Seattle, Deehubs has been granted permission from several property owners to project messages from its Website contributors directly onto their buildings — which is done with the aid of projectors.
To post messages, users create and submit them to the Deehubs Website. All posts are vetted and approved by an editorial team. Approved posts are automatically scheduled and displayed during the evening hours.
“The posting process is pretty much automated … Projectors are connected to laptops and the Internet and receive and display posts from Web servers in real time,” Maruashvili said. Most of projectors are installed some eight feet above ground level, so the risk of theft is low.
In addition to projecting on city walls, Deehubs is investing in digital billboards, which over the next year will form the backbone of what the company calls the first “people-centric outdoor ad company.” Ads will appear both in building projections and the digital billboards. Eventually, Maruashvili estimates that ads will constitute about 30 percent of the content. and be used to support both the Web and mobile operations.
The billboards will operate 24 hours a day so users can communicate in real time. Also, passersby will be able to engage in games and control the billboard directly from their smartphones, Maruashvili said.
Right now, multiplying locations is key, and when the road trip is completed, the company plans to establish permanent outposts in New York and Los Angeles, in addition to Seattle. “Last month we worked from Seattle, but user engagement came from everywhere. It means that one extra location brings thousands of content creators from other parts of the world,” Maruashvili said.
The company also values quality over quantity. Last month, Deehubs displayed 15,000 posts based on 28,000 submissions; next month the number of submissions will rise, but the number of displayed posts will stay the same. “We will be choosing best from the best to create engaging, relevant and beautiful content.”
With such a small operation on such a public stage, how does Deehubs keep the system secure? Says Maruashvili, “Before post is published in streets it goes through multiple security checks — two automated and one manual — and with very qualified developers in our team we’re minimizing the risks of hacking.”