The year 2013 was alternately tragic, forward-looking and fascinating for the digital signage industry. As the industry turns the page from 2013 to write a new chapter in 2014, we've taken a look back at the year that was and offered a preview of what could be down the road in the year ahead.
To conclude our end-of-year roundup here on the site, now that the final days of 2013 have ticked off, we'll take a look back at the 10 most-read stories of the past year on Digital Signage Today.
(Editor's note: Two of the most-visited stories on the site from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2013, actually were part of the previous year's prognostications for the year ahead in 2013. Keeping to the theme of "the most-read stories of 2013," we have omitted those in favor of the two next-highest visited stories on the site that were posted in 2013. Feel free to check out parts one and two of industry luminary Keith Kelsen's trends predictions for last year here and here.)
So without further ado, what did you, the readers of DST, pick as the most important or most interesting stories of 2013? Here they are, starting with No. 10:
Canadian sporting goods giant Sport Chek last year unveiled what it called "a game-changing" retail lab at a prime Toronto, location — combining interactive digital signage and self-service technology to create a retail digital wonderland experience. Sport Chek said it designed the store to be at the forefront of retail and create an ongoing test-and-learn environment for the store's retail innovations to be proven before rolling out to the chain's store network with new flagship stores across Canada.
The Digital Screenmedia Association awarded the Sport Chek Retail Lab its Screenmedia Integration Award at its 2013 DSA Industry Excellence Awards recognizing the best projects using digital signage, mobile, self-service and interactive kiosk technologies.
Expert digital signage and dynamic place-based media consultant Lyle Bunn took a look at the good, and bad, trends shaping digital signage at around the two-thirds mark of the year. Most of the trends in digital signage were positive, pointing to the ongoing success and value of the medium, he said, but others pointed toward potential failure and the challenges inherent in the growing industry. Seven trends in particular characterized the sector at that time, he said:
- Growth and installed base;
- Focus on value;
- Failure of networks;
- ROI and ROO;
- Integration into the media model;
- Supply chain; and
- Content and transmedia.
This article looked at a new wave of interactivity heading to store shelves — one in which there's no touchscreen required.
A new kind of retail digital signage projection technology from MIT graduates in New York aims to take the best of tablet and touchscreen digital signage and update the in-store shopping experience — with an interactive display on a typical wooden table. The projection technology — already in place in a cross-section of large retail stores such as Nordstrom and smaller boutique agencies like online-turned-pop-up-store BaubleBar — aims to draw on the strengths of interactive technology while removing the imposition of the touchscreen by using light and motion sensors to activate and project digital content onto retail displays.
This article offered a peek behind the curtain at Burger King's massive rollout of digital menu boards to nearly all of its U.S. locations as part of a major rebranding initiative. The chain installed DMBs in more than 6,500 stores — all in only four short months.
Installation & Service Technology Inc., served as project managers and installers for Burger King partner SICOM Systems Inc., deploying nearly 26,000 NEC Display Solutions digital signage displays in a mere 16 weeks.
IST CEO and President Jacob Horwitz spoke with DigitalSignageToday.com to provide a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to manage such a gargantuan deployment in such a short period of time. (For a five-day work week and 6,542 locations, that's an average of nearly 82 locations per night.)
Coca-Cola last year put digital signage-enabled and -connected vending kiosks in both India and Pakistan, hostile neighbors with simmering resentments that once were part of the same nation.
Each vending kiosk featured a touchscreen front showing people at the corresponding kiosk in the other country, and invited the people at each kiosk to interact and even complete a small shared task — drawing a circle, doing a little dance — with someone on the other side.
The March deployment was an emotional experience for the people who interacted with it, and for the Coca-Cola personnel involved in the project.
"The people of Pakistan and India share a lot of common passions and interests — from food and Bollywood movies ... to cricket," Saad Pall, Coke's assistant brand manager in Pakistan, said on the company's website. "What this project did was connect people who are not exposed to each other on a daily basis, enabling the common man in Lahore to see and interact with the common man in Delhi. It's a small step we hope will signal what's possible."
This piece looked at two new deals between digital signage provider Samsung Electronics America and static signage providers FASTSIGNS and N. Glantz & Son that Samsung said would "broaden access to easy-to-deploy digital signage solutions to a new category of customers."
There have been not-so-quiet rumblings in the digital signage sector that the static signage companies are coming — aparently this article struck a chord with readers that this could be coming true.
Gigantic robotic arms wielding 100-inch digital signage screens are set to take to the high seas this year aboard Royal Caribbean International's new Quantum-Class cruise ships.
The robot arms will move the screens to match the shipboard evening show's music and choreography while still synchronizing each screen's display to form a cohesive image as part of the line's high-tech new entertainment venues.
"We are doing something that has never been done before," RCI Executive Entertainment Producer Bob Kerns said in a video posted to the RCI website about the robotics and digital signage project.
U.K. retail and supermarket giant Tesco has a history of daring pilots with digital signage and other advanced consumer-engagement technologies, and this past year it added another chapter to that history with a new trial of interactive digital signage kiosks.
Tesco recently teamed with tech firm Cisco for a digital pilot trialing an array of interactive technologies at three store locations across the U.K. The new customer-facing upgrades included a digital signage display that advertised clothing available through the retailer's F&F line, and a self-service touchscreen kiosk developed by Retec Interface where customers could peruse online items, use barcode scanners for product ratings, reviews and suggested accessories, and make purchases using chip-and-PIN.
The move to couple the kiosk and digital signage was intentional, according to Retec CEO Graeme Derby.
"The kiosk is there to sell a broader array than what they have in the store, and it allows people to order sizes that are out of stock," Derby said. "The 46-inch Samsung screen then acts as an attraction to direct people to the kiosk, which is linked to the POS."
A digital signage exec offered up his take on the six most-common mistakes in digital signage deployments, and how to avoid them:
- Mistake No. 1 – Short-sighted budgets.
- Mistake No. 2 – Not thinking about expansion.
- Mistake No. 3 – Relying on one person to do it all.
- Mistake No. 4 – Not involving the people who'll use the system until after you've bought it.
- Mistake No. 5 – Falling in love with hardware.
- Mistake No. 6 – Not doing a networking survey.
This piece looked at a fatal accident involving airport digital signage and how it prompted calls for changes to safety standards and practices in installing digital signage.
After news broke that a digital signage display enclosure toppled over and killed a 10-year-old boy in an airport in Birmingham, Ala., Digital Signage Today reached out to a variety of industry experts to talk about what might have gone wrong with the installation — and how deployers can take steps to make sure something similar doesn't happen in their locations.
Watch a news report from Good Morning America on the airport accident below:
(Cover image taken from the GMA video.)
Learn more about digital signage trends.