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During 2012, I saw a distinct shift in public attitude to digital signage. In 2011, you could exceed customer or visitor expectations by providing exciting and dynamic information live on screen. In 2013, you will fail to meet their expectations if you don't.

The change was particularly visible in London during the Olympics last year, and has also been evident in a number of the projects we've been involved in like Charles de Gaulle Airport, the stunning Eybl sportswear store in Vienna and the Zurich Film Festival.

At the London Olympics there were screens everywhere informing and entertaining visitors and reinforcing sponsors' messages. Screens were dotted around the Olympic Park and other venues, highlighting events currently taking place or about to start. They were also placed in London parks, allowing popular events to be watched collectively (and free) by those unable to get tickets. Within the venues, screens explained the rules of the events and what was happening at each stage of a competition, as well as offering replays of exciting moments and close-up views. It is truly inconceivable that anyone will try to run such an event again without at least repeating this feature, if not going further in the use of digital display media.

Similarly, signage is now an integral part of new store concepts and upmarket events. In the new Buy Paris Duty Free shops in Charles de Gaulle International Airport, the video walls and interactive signage that runs only when a person enters the area in front of the display were part of the initial design. Eybl World Store Vösendorf, modeled on the Olympic Stadium in Beijing, embodies lightness and transparency, and digital media is integral to the concept of the store. For example, customers looking for running equipment find themselves in a high-definition video park along with other joggers.

For the attendees at the Zurich Film Festival, the experience started at the airport, with screens looping information about the festival and providing a countdown in anticipation of the annual event. It then extended across the city on 70 screens installed for the duration of the festival, and culminated in a dramatic video wall experience along the red carpet walkway at the festival itself.

Last month I wrote about how innovation in both signage hardware and content development tools is making interactive and uniquely engaging installations more affordable than ever. These reasonably priced solutions have helped drive signage from being a "bonus" to being an integral part of a retail or event experience. In 2013, every business should be thinking about how they can use signage creatively to enhance the customer, visitor or indeed employee experience.

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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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