7 ways wayfinding digital signage will evolve in 2012 (Commentary)

By David Levin

President and CEO, Four Winds Interactive


Wayfinding, as an application, is one of the most popular uses for digital signage as we enter 2012, with organizations like universities, hotels, casinos, cruise ships, hospitals and many others improving the visitor experience using wayfinding technology. People young and old are becoming familiar with interactive digital signage technology, and usage rates are at an all-time high. With adoption rates of wayfinding applications increasing so rapidly, there is constant evolution occurring in the technology. The changes are worth noting if you are preparing to add a wayfinding solution in your organization.

Let's look at the top seven trends:

  1. The integration between digital signs and smartphones will become closer as wayfinding systems enable users to get directions and then quickly send those directions through SMS, Tags and other methods. Now users don't have to remember or write down the information from the sign.
  2. For walkable destinations, like campuses or cruise ships, we are seeing the addition of step-by-step walking directions to the traditional visible path depicted on the map.
  3. The sophistication of images is improving, including 3D depictions of building layouts, more accurate renderings of floor plans, and more realistic depictions of hallways and route details.
  4. Property asset details are available for deeper drill down via touch interactivity. This can include deeper integration with restaurants on-property — e.g., at hotels and resorts — so users can view hours, menus and more. Also, universities are providing drill down details, such as contact information for departments and professors.
  5. More multitouch capability is in the mix, for two-finger zooming on images, which has been popularized by iPad and iPhone interfaces.
  6. In some industries, such as hospitality, more promotional content is augmenting basic wayfinding screens. When a user touches a map, the action triggers content in another part of the screen (perhaps a coupon code).
  7. Some wayfinding system managers are experimenting with sending text messages to mobile phones, including special offers. Typically, a person engages with the interactive screen and activates their profile via an affinity card or login. For example, in the gaming industry a player loyalty system can be integrated with the wayfinding system in a casino and throughout a resort in high-traffic areas. These systems can search specific offers available that match a user profile and potentially increase redemption.

Digital wayfinding is becoming an expectation for visitors to complex public spaces, and these systems are adding value. Start with a list of goals and look for ways to plug in these new capabilities to create a memorable customer experience.

David Levin is president and CEO of Denver-based Four Winds Interactive (www.FourWindsInteractive.com), one of "America's Top 20 Most Promising Companies," according to Forbes magazine. The company focuses on digital communications for hospitality, gaming, healthcare, higher education and other industries where interactive digital signage transforms the visitor experience. David can be reached at dlevin@fourwindsinteractive.com.

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