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Bradley Caruk

Location: Winnipeg, MB

Award: Innovation Award

Category: Industry

Year: 2006

Innovation:

Invented a way to give subway riders something to look at plus opening up revenue generation opportunities for subway system operators. SideTrack's technology works much like a children's flipbook, with a motion-sensitive lighting system illuminating pictures that riders on the train see as a moving picture. Read the News Release and Media Backgrounder for additional information.

News Release

Winnipeg Animator Wins $10,000 Manning Innovation Award for Turning Tunnels into Prime Advertising Space

Calgary, AB (September 15th, 2006) — Winnipeg animator Bradley Caruk is changing the face of advertising by turning subway tunnels around the world into filmstrips.

Thanks to Caruk's invention, bored subway riders on three continents now have something refreshing to look at. The medium, developed by Winnipeg-based SideTrack™ Technologies Inc., is opening up prime advertising space and generating substantial revenue for transit system operators in North America, Asia, and Europe.

Caruk, Co-Founder and Vice President of SideTrack™ Technologies Inc., has won a $10,000 Manning Innovation Award, sponsored by Katch Kan Limited, for inventing and developing the new advertising medium.

"As a Canadian, the award exemplifies me and my fellow winners as world contenders in innovation," says Caruk, adding that it also puts a smile on his face. "It lifts ones self-esteem to know that we are not crazy pushing forward with our ideas."

Rob Walker, President and Co-Founder of SideTrack Technologies Inc., had the idea to put something in the tunnels about seven years ago, while watching Paris subway commuters stare out the windows at a blank wall. Back in Winnipeg—which has no subway—Walker mentioned this to Caruk, his business colleague and an expert in producing computer-generated images.

Caruk experimented with computer models and physical models and came up with a solution to make the concept work. Then, supported by friends, family, and the Renaissance Manitoba Capital Ventures Fund, Caruk and Walker set up the first SideTrack™ system in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The SideTrack™ technology works much like a children's flipbook. As the train moves past static images on the tunnel wall, motion-sensitive lights illuminate the pictures. Riders on the train see a moving picture lasting 15 seconds or more.

Viewers can see the panoramic SideTrack™ ads from any window in the train. Unlike competing technologies, the SideTrack™ system produces startlingly clear images, explains Caruk.

"We're not used to seeing clear imagery at high speeds," he adds, "...it just kind of plays with your visual senses."

Caruk's animation company, Digital PictureWorks, creates the ads, which are printed as a series of still images by affiliated company, 'ink BIG. Then, late at night when the train system is shut down, a SideTrack™ crew ventures into the tunnels to post the images on the wall.

The medium is proving more effective than television advertising, according to SideTrack™'s recent study of about 500 people. Commuters recalled the product and brand featured in a tunnel ad for Honda at a rate of 79 percent.

Tunnel ads are successful, notes Caruk, because there is little else to compete for train riders' attention. "You're not competing with making a sandwich," he says, "...You're not competing with switching the station. You're not competing with going to the washroom."

SideTrack™ has tunnel ads in Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and in the United States in Boston, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has made close to $1.5 million US in two years since signing on with SideTrack™ Technologies Inc. in 2004.

Other companies to run SideTrack™ tunnel ads include Tropicana, Philips, and Hummer. Advertising agencies currently rank SideTrack™ tunnel ads with the top 10 media.

With over 150 urban rail systems world wide, SideTrack™ has plenty of room to expand. New contracts will take tunnel advertising to Moscow, Russia; London, England; and Toronto, Canada.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

This year, the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation will award a total of $165,000 in prize money. Four awards, totaling $145,000, will go to leading Canadian innovators. Another $20,000 will go to Young Innovators with winning projects at the 2006 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

The winners of the 2006 Manning Innovation Awards will be announced throughout September. All will be honoured at the annual gala awards dinner, September 29th, 2006 in Calgary.

The Foundation was established in 1980 in the name of prominent Alberta statesman, Ernest C. Manning, to promote and support Canadian innovators. Since 1982, the Foundation has presented over $3.6 million in prize money through its annual awards program (www.manningawards.ca).

For more information on SideTrack™ tunnel advertisements, visit http://www.sidetrack.ca/ or contact award-winner Bradley Caruk at

204-663-4989 or at brad@sidetrack.ca

For more information about the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation, contact Bruce Fenwick, Executive Director, at 403-645-8288 or at bruce.fenwick@encana.com
 

Media Backgrounder

$10,000 Manning Innovation Award, Sponsored by Katch Kan Limited Bradley Caruk, SideTrack™ Tunnel Advertisements

Who?

  • Bradley Caruk, Owner and Vice President of SideTrack™ Technologies Inc. and inventor of SideTrack™ subway tunnel advertisements
  • Caruk is an alumnus of Manitoba's Red River Community College, where he obtained a diploma in advertising art in the 1980s

What?

  • Caruk will receive of one of this year's two prestigious $10,000 Manning Innovation Awards for inventing a method to turn subway tunnel walls into film strips, thus opening up prime advertising space and generating substantial revenue for transit system operators

Where?

  • SideTrack™ Technologies Inc. and its sister companies (animation studio, Digital PictureWorks, and printer, 'ink BIG) are based in Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • SideTrack™ has tunnel advertising systems in the United States in Boston, Massachusetts; Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • SideTrack™ is under contract to provide tunnel advertising systems in the United States in San Francisco, California; in Canada, in Toronto, Ontario; in London, England; and in Moscow, Russia

When?

  • Caruk began work on SideTrack™ tunnel advertising technology in 2000

Why?

Worldwide, millions of commuters ride the subway each day, with only bare concrete to look at outside the window. Since there is little to compete for subway riders' attention, tunnel advertising has a captive and receptive audience.

"People welcome it," says Bradley Caruk, inventor of SideTrack™ tunnel advertising, "They don't look at it in the same way as a TV commercial—as a pest."

Caruk says he's seen people get off the subway only to take the train back in the opposite direction in order to watch a tunnel ad again. He's also witnessed serious-looking subway readers look up from their novels, watch a tunnel ad, and then return to reading with a smile.

"It disrupts expectations," explains Caruk. Usually, the view from a fast-moving vehicle is blurred. SideTrack™ ads are startlingly clear. "We're not used to seeing sharp imagery at high speeds," he says.

How?

Rob Walker, President and Co-Founder of SideTrack Technologies Inc., had the idea to put something in the tunnels about seven years ago, while watching Paris subway commuters stare out the windows at a blank wall. Back in Winnipeg—which has no subway— Walker mentioned this to Caruk, his business colleague and an expert in producing computer-generated images.

Caruk and his staff at Digital PictureWorks used computer modeling to see how they could turn a tunnel wall into the pages of a flipbook. To confirm what they had worked out in theory, Caruk and his then 10-year-old son set up a series of 50 milk jugs by the side of the road. Each milk jug was turned slightly compared to the next. Caruk and son then drove by several times, flashing a homemade strobe light on the milk jugs. Sure enough, when they hit the right speed, they could see one rotating milk jug.

Further experimentation, which had Caruk and Walker driving an open van along a boulevard lined with pictures, made it clear that their concept could work. After a real-world test in 2002 in the subway system in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, they were in business.

"(The SideTrack™ system) is a very simple solution," says Caruk, "It's high tech and low tech at the same time."

A series of static images on a tunnel wall create a filmstrip. As the train moves by, it trips two infrared beams connected to a monitor that clocks the train's speed. Based on the train's speed, lights—flashing faster than the human eye can detect—illuminate the images precisely at the right split second. Train riders see a panoramic moving picture.

Advertisers can provide SideTrack™ Technologies Inc. with television commercials or posters as a basis for the tunnel ads.

Rats, and people, and trains, oh my!

"I've seen lots of bizarre things in the tunnels," says SideTrack™ tunnel ad inventor, Bradley Caruk.

In order to set up the pictures and other components of the SideTrack™ tunnel advertising system, Caruk and a crew must venture into the subway tunnels while the trains are shut down for the night.

In addition to the pooch-sized rats he's encountered, Caruk says that one night, while setting up a system overseas, he heard an unnerving whirling sound. Although the guide assured Caruk that the noise was from a ventilation fan, the safety crew's walkie-talkies were abuzz. A light around the corner signaled the true source of the noise, and Caruk and the crew had to hug the walls as an unscheduled train zoomed by.

For his next invention, Caruk is working on a system that would allow him to change the posted images remotely.

"Right now there's no limit to what we're going to be able to do," he says, noting that SideTrack™ technology could be adapted for advertising on light rail transit or high-speed rail, or for added effect on roller coasters.

"It's just one small invention after another," says Caruk.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

This year, the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation will award a total of $165,000 in prize money. Four awards, totaling $145,000, will go to leading Canadian innovators. Another $20,000 will go to Young Innovators with winning projects at the 2006 Canada-Wide Science Fair.

The Foundation was established in 1980 in the name of prominent Alberta statesman, Ernest C. Manning, to promote and support Canadian innovators. Since 1982, the Foundation has presented over $3.6 million in prize money through its annual awards program (www.manningawards.ca).