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Our vibrant industry is evolving its technology base faster than ever. 4K was first talked about at CES, and already screens are appearing everywhere from high end to low end. Integrators are now using more and more full-HD streaming media servers to lower the cost of video distribution. Content developers are incorporating their HTML5 Web assets into digital signage content, leveraging an investment already made in content creation.

The social media generation expects to interact with signage rather than just view it, and the technologies that support this interaction, like touch control and swipe, continue to be deployed more and more. Customers' expectations are calibrated by the devices in their pockets. Signage networks are increasingly enabling customers to engage through Twitter, Facebook or other platforms. Local store managers also expect to be able to control their signs from their smartphone with an app — as well as via a Web browser.

The Internet is driving digital signage technology in other ways too, making it essential for signage to update in real-time in response to fluctuations in the market, weather or news events. Displays installed at 40-plus Western Union International Bank currency exchanges, for example, are updated continuously with the latest exchange rates by intelligently pulling data from their business system.

Some of these changes started in 2013, and many have now transitioned from being a nice-to-have, to an essential feature during the year. As you consider your investment in digital signage in 2014, make sure that the products and equipment you are selecting not only fully support the changes that have already taken place, but also have a good roadmap for supporting new technologies as they evolve. Future-proofing is a key issue for digital signage network owners.

All of the trends will develop and extend in 2014, and new paradigms will emerge. Don't get stranded with products that are static. Be sure you are buying into a flexible platform that will evolve in lockstep with emerging technologies.

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Jeff Hastings
BrightSign CEO Jeff Hastings joined BrightSign in August 2009 while it was still a division of Roku Inc. In late 2010 with digital signage activities growing so rapidly, BrightSign became a separate firm. The holder of eight U.S. patents, he also has a history of tech industry leadership, including as president of mp3 pioneer Rio.
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