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Friday
Nov042011

A Healthy Serving of Digital Signage Musings

This column is a bit of a digital signage dim sum -a tasting of various thoughts, facts and musings that taken together should make for a tasty treat.

Item one; nearly all smartphones will have touchscreens in the not too distant future. ABI Research released a projection in late August that sees 97 percent of all smartphones having a touchscreen by 2016. To put that into perspective, in 2006 only 7 percent of the smartphones shipped had touchscreens. The research firm attributes much of the coming proliferation to the availability of low-cost capacitive touch controllers that can reduce the cost of adding touch-based interactivity by as much as 30 percent.

Question. When touch-screen capability is ubiquitous in smartphones, will interactive touch-screen capability simply be expected by consumers? Will signs without it, leave consumers wondering what's wrong, or worse, simply walking away to a friendlier, more interactive alternative?

Item two; a blending of digital technologies may point the way to the future for out-of-home advertising. Global lifestyle and environmental communications agency Kinetic, said in September that is was launching Fuel, "a response to the increasing scope of Out of Home advertising including opportunities to integrate digital interactivity, dynamic displays, experiential and bespoke design into client brand campaigns."

In announcing the launch, Kinetic's UK chief operating officer said the move "reflects the changing nature of Out of Home media and the huge opportunities that emerging technologies add...."

Question: How long until others notice and begin to leverage complementary interactive technologies with digital signs to produce an even more effective communications experience or more powerful marketing opportunity? What sorts of opportunities will be available when a sign can communicate wirelessly with a smartphone, for example, and vice versa?

Item three; a telling glance can direct a sign. Researchers from the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute in South Korea in mid-September demonstrated a technology that allows someone to have interactive control over a television -and digital signage is not too far of a stretch of the imagination- by tracking their gaze. The technology, shown at the International Broadcast Convention in Amsterdam, uses a camera to track where one of the pupils of a viewer is directed to give the viewer interactive control. In one demo, a viewer's gaze was used to pull up the vital statistics -age, name and hometown- of various dancers as they performed on stage. Still a prototype, a finished version is years away.

Question: Will the gaze of a digital signage viewer one day replace touch as the gateway to interactivity? If so, what possibilities will this new interactive interface open to communicators and marketers?

That's about all for this digital signage dim sum tasting. I hope this presentation gave you some food for thought. At the very least, I hope it didn't leave you with any digital signage dyspepsia.

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