How digital signage advances are accelerating deployments

Digital Signage Today recently presented a free webinar, "The Digital Signage Revolution: Key Advancements That Are Accelerating Deployment," along with technology manufacturer Kontron America Inc. that looked at how new technology advance are speeding the growth of digital signage.

The one-hour webinar looked at how "the digital signage revolution" is ongoing and pervasive: With more consumers seeing video on digital signs than on Internet sites, retailers and advertisers increasingly are turning to digital signage to explore new ways to attract and engage consumers. An estimate from Intel Corp. suggests that the digital signage revolution will continue to expand at an astronomical pace to more than 22 million screens and 10 million players by the year 2015.

Kevin Rhoads, vice president of embedded products for Kontron America, and Ed Stock, a platform system architect for digital signage at Intel, led the presentation that examined new advances that are making it faster and easier to evaluate and deploy digital signage for a range of market segments including retail, health care and transportation, speeding up the process of collecting and integrating software and licenses.

Brands and companies are exploring new ways to attract and engage customers. The convergence of new technologies such as NFC, multitouch and gesture are making digital signage an even more attractive option.

Rhoads and Stock also talked about how hardware advance, such as smaller, faster and cooler CPUs; processors with integrated graphics; and 4G and 4G LTE connectivity are speeding advances – as is broader participation from ecosystem partners such as wireless providers. They also looked at how analytics is making digital signage smarter, improving the user experience by playing more relevant content and merging the best online experience with the brick-and-mortar experience.

There also were some interesting results from polling questions asked of the audience. One of the questions, "What do you believe is most fueling the rapid growth of digital signage?" resulted in an overwhelming majority or the webinar participants answering, "Improved cost effectiveness."

Another question asked, "How soon will you be deploying new or additional digital signage?" More than half answered within the next three months, and nearly 25 percent said within four to six months.

Stock mentioned the recently completed London Olympics and the digital signage deployments around London, from signage in the venues to signage in the London subway system.

"This is going to become more and more of a pervasive, human to machine interface between digital signage and our normal everyday lives," he said.

Rhoads mentioned a use case involving quick-service restaurant giant McDonald's. If a McDonald's customer comes in and buys only a cheeseburger and nothing else, the location loses 17 cents; if that customer buys a cheeseburger and fries, the location makes 17 cents; but if the customer buys a cheeseburger, fries and a soft drink, the profit goes up to more than a dollar – so digital signage will be effective in trying to direct customers to more profitable options, he said.

"People are trying to create product velocity," Rhoads said.

The webinar speakers also addressed issues around multitouch interaction, data collection and the growth of standards, such as Intel's OPS, or Open Pluggable Specification – and then some of the challenges inherent in the digital signage industry's fragmented ecosystem.

They also touched on the future, looking ahead to the Olympics and World Cup events in Brazil in a few years, noting that estimates suggest that $350 million worth of digital signage will be deployed for those two events.

During the question-and-answer portion of the webinar, one of the participants asked Rhoads what he sees on the horizon for the interaction of smartphones and digital signage.

"I think what you're seeing today is that when there's a void in the marketplace, people fill that void," he said, noting that customers already have real-time digital signage deployed that works with smartphone and tablet apps, and that those kinds of deployments will only increase.

Stock chimed in to say he sees the biggest future trend being the interactions between digital signage and smartphones becoming more transactional in nature, as mobile payments technologies such as Google Wallet become more prevalent in the marketplace.

Another participant asked Stock to talk about how anonymous facial recognition technology can enhance customer engagement. Stock responded that facial recognition tech allows signs to play content that is relevant to the viewer – and he mentioned a potential use case in which a mall sign recognizes that a man is shopping at 5 p.m. on Feb. 14, so it plays content that directs him to the nearest flower or candy shops.

"I think that's the biggest area, is just to enhance our experience and get us moving through our purchases, and (showing) advertising quicker and more relevant to us," he said.

To download the free webinar, click here.

Read more about digital signage trends.

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