In the digital signage industry, we are masters at creating jaw-dropping visuals. Video walls, custom-shaped screens and video columns show how we continue to push the bounds of what is possible with modern digital signage. But something I find particularly interesting is how digital signage is evolving "beyond the screen" to create a more sensory experience that is as entertaining as it is effective.
One such example is Pixels, a U.K. system integrators. Pixels joined forces with award-winning illusionist Sean Alexander and Hollywood special effects artist Rob Ostir to bring illusions to life on HoBs PiT, a £500,000 ride at the Pleasurewood Hills amusement park in Lowestoft, England. The ride, set in an abandoned mine in absolute darkness, uses digital signage to create a series of chilling special effects. Pixels uses twelve digital signage players to rattle doors, open and close hatches and even raise and lower a corpse in sync with HD video playback.
Sean Alexander's script incorporates a ride element and a walk-through section. Video playback, holographic projection and physical effects need to be totally in synch. Each must happen at exactly the right moment, otherwise the impact is lost. Norman Garland and his team at Pixels did an outstanding job using the players digital signage software to achieve this, avoiding the need for expensive control systems. They were able to program the media players to replay HD video in response to triggers from sensors in the ride, and to control pneumatic valves and rams, lighting and motors for the special effects. Control was achieved through the GPIO port on the players.
To continue the theme of 'spooky signage,' Pale Night Productions is a Missouri-based company that sells special effects to professionally created, commercial haunted houses. Pale Night Productions is recognized globally, and a big part of that recognition stems from its extensive portfolio of video effects. These video effects are complete packages, including the monitor, sound module, control hardware and digital signage players. In addition, these packages include pneumatic connections and control valves that integrate with the package to spray water at particular times to simulate blood splatter. You can imagine how impactful it would be to observe a chaotic zombie chase scene on the display that culminates with the zombies being shot, while being showered with simulated blood at the exact moment the zombies explode!
It's a bit gruesome to describe an amusement park ride with levitating corpses and a haunted house complete with zombie shoot-out, but these are graphic, compelling examples of how digital signage is reaching beyond the screen to deliver a very immersive viewer experience. And when you consider how effectively this multidimensional digital signage is being used to provoke emotional reactions in those nearby, just imagine what's possible when these techniques are similarly applied in other settings. My prediction is that we'll begin to see more of this multidimensional, sensory digital signage deployed in retail and other business settings, creating new and creative ways to connect with customers.
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.