Last week, I attended Digital Signage Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center. While wandering the various booths, I noticed a few key trends such as an increased focus on interactivity, analytics, menu boards and more. I'll take a look at three trends in this part, with three more to come next week.
You need more than a display to grab a customer's attention
In the past, it may have been good enough to slap together a basic display and call it a day. Jeff Hastings, CEO of BrightSign, believes that basic displays don't draw attention like they used to.
"The vast majority of users visiting retailers are usually holding phones in their hands," Hastings said during an interview. It's difficult to get customers to look up from their phones. Hastings believes there are a few ways to grab users' attention.
One way is through mobile interactivity. If the digital signage can push out coupons or content, customers might pay attention to the digital signage. ComQi demonstrated this technology through LinkRay, which integrates with displays to provide special offers. Customers can use the LinkRay app on their phones to scan a display and then immediately receive content such as discounts.
Another way is through more advanced screens. You can use higher brightness, 4K or HDR to make the display pop. A third way is through interactive solutions such as touchscreens.
Touchscreen technology is developing but has a ways to go
At DSE, I met with Ian Crosby, sales and marketing director of Zytronic, who showed off the company's force sensing technology for touchscreens. The technology can tell the difference between a light and hard touch by measuring the surface area of the user's finger. If the user presses harder, the surface area of their finger will be longer than with a light touch.
Other interactive solutions at DSE showcased a number of technologies. I saw a number of hands-free 3D displays, which allowed a user to interact with a model without ever touching the screen. I also saw several larger touch tables.
Touchscreen technology, however, still has one problem to overcome: tactile issues. "People want something they can truly feel, and touchscreen hasn't reached that point yet," Crosby said. Touchscreen technology can also be dangerous in cars, where users can't feel their way around the screen.
One way to address this issue would be to create recesses in the screen to imitate the feel of a keyboard, Crosby said.
Digital signage isn't just for mission critical applications anymore
Gary Bailer, director of product management information display products at Sharp, said digital signage used to be mainly for mission critical applications such as oil rigs. Only the big companies could afford this 24/7 equipment. The software has made it easier for smaller companies to get involved in digital signage.
Bailer said smaller companies can start off with basic solutions such as a USB for content and an LCD display. From there, they can move up to System on a Chip, which cuts out the need for a media player. The final step for businesses would be OPS digital signage players.
This enables users, according to Bailer, to "keep their hardware and upgrade their software."
Stay tuned for Part 2 for more trends.
Image via Digital Signage Expo.
/ Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.