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Monday
Nov262012

Haptics touch technology

Technical Q&A with Heather Culbertson from the Haptics Group at the University of Pennsylvania

haptics.seas.upenn.edu

DA: What is haptics and what relevance does it have to our lives?

Haptics is the science of understanding the sense of touch and augmenting a person's touch interactions with the physical world. The importance of the sense of touch to a person's daily life is often overlooked.

For example, try picking something up after your hand has fallen asleep. It's very difficult to do since you can't feel the shape of the object or determine if you are applying enough force to keep the object from slipping. Now try picking up the same object without looking. Even without sight you can use your sense of touch to help you adjust your hand until you have a stable grip on the object.

People are increasingly interacting with the world through technology such as a computer, smartphone, or tablet. But the only physical interactions that people have is with the keyboard or mouse, not with anything on the screen. Wouldn't it be great if we could add some touch sensations back to computing?

In the future, haptics could be applied to letting you feel a hug or a handshake from the person with whom you are video chatting. Or you could feel the tactile qualities of fabrics or clothing before you buy them online.

Haptics has been becoming more mainstream though. Many devices that people use everyday already use haptics. For example, the vibration in your phone or rumble packs in game controllers provide haptic cues to indicate that something has happened. But these haptic interactions do not feel realistic and leave a lot to be desired.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Monday
Nov262012

Unified Brand Digital Signage

Technical Q&A with Guy Tonti from Unified Brand

www.unifiedbrand.com

DA: What does Unified Brand bring to digital signage?

Content Distribution That Adapts At The Speed Of Business

Unified Brand has an extremely adaptable and cost effective digital signage content production and distribution model.

We interface with our customers at both the system and personal level in truly unique ways such that we can provide for them to make unlimited content changes. This means our customers can react faster to demands for changes in their messaging in ways other advertising medium cannot.

Two Examples: Auto Dealerships and Restaurants

In our automobile dealerships, this means changes in service and parts specials that directly relate to current events.

An example is recently Phoenix experienced a “100 year dust storm,” that blanketed the city in an unprecedented layer of powder. Within hours we had content up on all our Phoenix dealership signs announcing special offers on filter replacements. All experienced an uptick in sales of this that would not have happened if word-of-mouth had been the only communication method available.

In our retail establishments, changes in restaurant daily specials based on food availability is a normal occurrence. We now allow for the restaurant announcing it in their social media, to also be automatically changed on the sign. This reinforces the message, and doubles the chance of a consumer purchasing the special.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Monday
Nov262012

Digital signage development

Technical Q&A with Guy Tonti from Unified Brand

www.unifiedbrand.com

DA: What is Unified Brand working on at the moment? Is there anything particular you are excited about?

Our goal for every sign is to increase the amount of time it is viewed.

Interesting and exciting content is something we do phenomenally well, but it has become the table stakes every sign owner and sign viewer expects. The ubiquity of both the internet and mobile devices means a sign owner or screen viewer can easily react to, and then potentially make changes to, the content being displayed.

This technology convergence is allowing for the most exciting area we are focused on is to allow for and encourage the customer to interact with the display. Our initial focus is for sign owners to allow for relevant and real-time content from their social media sites to be displayed so viewers will feel more connected.

The displaying of customer check-ins is the first step to grow the sense of community. A customer checking-in will let others know of their presence in a live manner, while also encouraging the use of social media interaction with the sign owner.

The next logical step is for displaying of moderated messaging in a system-to-system manner. This again has the dual purpose of growing the sign owner community and customer experience at that establishment.

Another development is for sign owners to interactively change the sign messaging based on customer input. An auto dealership showroom can change the displayed content to feature a specific model that provides more information to help the customer in their buying decision. This will also build on the above mentioned alternative learning signage can provide, providing for a more balanced communication experience.

Though mobility and the internet have received many of the headlines recently, these are ultimately the change agents for how digital signage is used to communicate at the point of action. Unified Brand is very fortunate to be at the vortex of a great technical and social revolution resulting from this, and is continuing to leverage digital signage to make our customers’ businesses grow.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Monday
Nov262012

Digital signage display hardware

Technical Q&A with Guy Tonti from Unified Brand

www.unifiedbrand.com

DA: What are the most important considerations when choosing the actual displays for digital signage? Does it depend on content?

Content is always key, but too often the digital signage customer's most important consideration moves to cost of the display.

The effect of changes in display technologies means customers continually see prices drop and the content on the displays looking better. What is hard to quantify at the time of purchase is the difference in commercial and consumer grade displays.

A signage customer seeing new commercial and consumer displays often cannot see a notable difference. What needs to be considered is those displays effect on the viewer of the content over time.

The consumer displays do not have the same quality of components to withstand continual playing. They become adversely affected by degradation in components and screen “burn-in” that makes content be much less appealing. The worst case is component failure causing a display shutdown, resulting in a blank screen and a replacement being required. Both of these decrease the viewer experience with digital signage and reflect negatively on the digital sign owner company.

The use of commercial displays means the content continues over time to look sharp and appealing to the viewer, as well the display reliability allowing for less total cost of ownership.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Monday
Nov262012

Digital signage customer experience

Technical Q&A with Guy Tonti from Unified Brand

www.unifiedbrand.com

DA: How does digital signage change the customer experience?

Digital signage is the only advertising medium that is at the convergence of messaging and point-of purchase. It provides for the digital sign advertiser to provide relevant information to the consumer at the optimal point in the sales cycle.

It is the optimal medium for providing content that is specific to the viewer. All sign owners know their viewer demographics such that tailoring the content to them is possible.

Many of our restaurant owners changes their content based on time of day, day of week, and seasonally, with no physical actions required. This makes the signs be more profitable, but more importantly more relevant to the viewer such that they are more likely to watch the display.

It also allows for the sign owner to provide alternate communication methods. Not every customer takes in information the same way. A visual learner in an auto dealership would be much better served learning of a new car’s features by watching a digital sign, and have a higher potential to buy.

More many of our dealers their signage reinforces messaging customers have seen on broadcast TV or via the internet, making for a more comfortable buying experience.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Monday
Nov262012

Digital signage industry

Technical Q&A with Guy Tonti from Unified Brand

www.unifiedbrand.com

DA: Where is the digital signage industry right now and where is it going?

Digital signage continues to grow in both its presence and dollars spent in the competitive space of advertising alternatives.

This primarily results from the underlying changes in technology dropping its costs relative to its ability to reach desirable customers. This change is occurring in numerous technology segments of the solution; the internet, displays, player, content development software and demographic analysis; all of which is making digital signage more affordable, ultimately providing a more viable alternative to traditional broadcast TV or billboards.

In the past, advertisers and agencies have viewed digital signage with skepticism. They have not included it in the advertising mix they provide their clients because of its cost and the lack of confidence in the customer analytics.

The combination of lowering the relative cost of an advertisement and the increase in ability to measure the signage’s effectiveness is making it a more viable advertisement alternative.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Monday
Nov262012

Engineers and Touch Technology

Technical Q&A with Francois Kern from C2P, Inc.

www.c2p-inc.org/

DA: What challenges does touch technology present to engineers, particularly in its application to real-world products?

There are many challenges, however the most common are: A) Customization, B) Lead time, C) Cost, and D) Life cycle.

Believe it or not cost is not the largest factor. Our clients want robust displays but more importantly is the ability to scale up. We have developed special monitors that are scale-able and can be produced in low runs of 25 at a time. End of life is no longer an issue.

We also provide our Steel Glass which is stronger than the original Gorilla Glass from Corning and it can be ordered in minimum quantities of 5-10,000 units with an optically bonded ITO. We can also reverse silkscreen the glass and bevel the glass as per customer specs.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Monday
Nov262012

Baanto touch technology

Technical Q&A with Joe Kotas and Kevin Lee from Baanto

www.baanto.com/

DA: What is Baanto working on at the moment? Are you excited about anything in particular?

We have been pleasantly surprised by the diversity of applications we’re being asked to work on.

We have ongoing programs with customers that span 8” touch solutions for an industrial, ruggedized application and have been demonstrating a product we developed for Christie Digital that will touch enable up to a 260” video wall.

We have integrators providing multiple medical monitors either shipping or in development fitted with our touch solution and that’s been a great endorsement of our technology.

Tactically, we’re working on expanding our mid-size standard products for ATM’s, Industrial Control, and Gaming applications and have over 60 customers evaluating our technology for these applications.

The initial Digital Signage products ranging from 32” to 85” will start rolling out in October and the demand for a reliable, economic, and sunlight tolerant solution is simply unbelievable. There’s a lot more to follow these products over the next year.

We’re working on creating the most usable, scalable, and economic multi-touch product in the industry. Is it possible to be excited about everything we’re working on??


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Monday
Nov262012

Industries for touch technology

Technical Q&A with Joe Kotas and Kevin Lee from Baanto

www.baanto.com

DA: Are there any industries where touch technology has potential to be applied but hasn't yet?

We’re seeing adoption across a vast number of vertical markets and some are quite surprising.

In general, I expect touch to be truly ubiquitous. In some cases the application is directly and uniquely touch based, but we’re also seeing an exciting linkage between 3D or spatial gesture recognition combined with touch.

By the same token linking Bluetooth or Near-field RF link with touch functions on a smart phone or tablet and larger equipment has some unique applications as well.

One BILLION users will demand touch in both old and new applications.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Monday
Nov262012

Touch solutions provider

Technical Q&A with Joe Kotas and Kevin Lee from Baanto

www.baanto.com

DA: What goes into being a touch solutions provider as opposed to just supplying the technology?

Creating products that have three basic features; simplicity, usability, and reliability.

As I mentioned in the first question, our long term success of the industry is dependent on navigating the “uncharted waters” confronting the industry. If the implementation of a technology requires that users memorize complex gestures it will slow the adoption of touch.

Who remembers the Palm Pilot ‘Graffiti’ alphabet touch stylus entry system where you had to be trained on the way they forced you to write (no signature capture here), not many of you.

If the industry creates a state of confusion by not standardizing on gestures, it will confuse users and by their nature, humans hate to feel confused. And if a technology will only work in darkened rooms or can only be activated by an individual that doesn’t sport long fingernails, or have calluses, or happens to be wearing gloves, or has prosthetics and/or special needs users will be frustrated, and humans hate to be frustrated as well.

I think that when you consider human factors into your outlook, specialization is the enemy of success. We think that the successful solution providers will understand and embrace those simple concepts.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Monday
Nov262012

Touch display industry

Technical Q&A with Joe Kotas and Kevin Lee from Baanto

http://www.baanto.com/

DA: Where is the touch display industry right now and where is it going?

The Touch Industry Has Gone Viral

The touch industry is undergoing a seminal shift in user expectations due to the popularity and proliferation of smart phones and tablets. Quite simply, over 400 million new users of touch enabled devices are driving the industry in unexpected ways and into uncharted waters.

Although these are small sized commercial products, one key development is simply users have the expectation of touch enabled functions, in everything. The use of touch has moved from an incidental feature of a device like an ATM that you might use a few times a month to an intrinsic part of many people’s daily life. Touch is literally being used 100’s of time a day by hundreds of millions of people of every age around the world. As a result, touch is no longer an option, but a relevant and necessary feature in any device that humans interact with.

For example, at a shopping mall or covered bus stop, you only need to observe a digital sign for a few minutes to see obvious evidence of this trend. I would expect over 90% of users to walk up and touch the display as opposed to just looking at the content. If the display is interactive, the user becomes engaged with the content. If it’s not interactive, most users simply walk away (looking slightly embarrassed). From casual observation, the reaction is more pronounced the younger the user.

Or take a few moments to search for “infants” and “iPhone” on YouTube and you’ll get over 180 hits, and some of the videos have over a million views! This is an awesome demographic and portends a long and continuing upward trend for the touch industry.

Engineers Are Out Of Touch With Touch Users

The uncharted waters comment reflects the fact that the technology is way ahead of the users and this is not necessarily a good thing. Unfortunately this applies to both hardware and the user experience.

For example, on the hardware side, two years ago, a couple of companies including 3M announced a 20 touch 22” display. And two years later, I challenge you to find a robust application of any type that effectively uses more than three touches.

As an example my Samsung Galaxy S II phone has an app that allows me to see how many touches my phones touch screen can support. It turns out to be 10 touches. I have difficulty fitting ten of my fingers on the screen at the same time. And what apps make use of this maximum number of touches? Just the one app, the one that tell me how many touches I can have!

The danger is not in having an over-specified product; the risk is in trying to force the adoption of any one technology simply because it can outperform other solutions when held to artificial specifications and that horrible phrase “future proofing”.

Let’s Name Names: Microsoft, 3M

Quite frankly, one only has to look at Microsoft’s position with the touch specification for Windows 8. One would have to say it was designed not for the real world applications but to support one particular technology.

The cost differential between projected capacitive and alternative solutions for larger displays will slow the adoption of touch technology and most likely slow the adoption of Windows 8 in desktop applications.

Specifically, you can currently buy the 3M, 20 touch, 22” monitor I mentioned above, but at $1,350 each in the USA and about €1,500 in Europe, it’s clearly not a consumer product.

Now take a competitive solution based on an optical multi-touch technology such as Baanto’s ShadowSense that can easily support five touches and you can sell that same 22” product for under $ 350. This should be a “no-brainer”, but I think there was a fair amount of tunnel vision when the specifications were created.

In fact, a recent review of Windows 8 stated Windows 8 was “great for touch, but bad for the desktop”. While the blog was focused on the backseat the mouse and keyboard take in Windows 8, the obvious solution is to touch enable the desktop. But I certainly can’t afford multiple monitors that cost over $1K each, so my solution is to stay with Windows 7. Who wins in that scenario?

As far as the user experience, I would love to know the most frequently used gestures on iPhones. I can guess: tap, double tap, swipe, 2 finger pinches to shrink, 2 finger spread to enlarge. Maybe rotate, but I think most people simply rotate the phone. And that word “simply” is the most operative and underappreciated word in the touch industry today.

In my opinion, if it’s not simple, it won’t be used by the majority of people that don’t have an urgent need to learn something new. And worse, if it’s not standardized, the confusion in the user base will definitely slow the adoption rate.

The Future Is On Baanto’s Side

History says that when consumer products combine the complex with the confusing, they fail. Apply that model to the touch market and everyone suffers.

Gartner estimates that there will be over 600 million users of smartphones and tablets by the end of 2012 and one BILLION users by 2015. What they don’t say is that this is not one Billion individual users but ‘smart users’ with multiple smart devices. The hard core of multitouch and gesture savvy individuals will be somewhat less than that. So who in their right mind will start producing complex touch controlled equipment like kiosks, ATM’s and information terminals such as are seen at shopping malls when they know that maybe as many as two thirds of their potential users need to be trained to use them.

There will certainly be specialized markets that will tolerate, and in some cases demand, unique and complex interactions that only the most complex and expensive hardware can support. But in our opinion, a truly successful technology embraces all users, from infants to the elderly, from the capable to the handicapped. It really needs to be simple, accessible, and reliable.

What sometimes gets forgotten about in this rush for the latest technology is that the majority of touch usage does not need more than one touch and that having more than one touch would lead to an application that will take extra time to interact with. One struggles to think of any reason why you would need multitouch on a self-service check out or for picking up your cinema tickets from a kiosk or even when using an airline check-in terminal at an airport.

So just because you can do a thing does not mean you have to do a thing or should do a thing. And if you don’t heed these words it could mean that you will be tying up substantial amounts of money in technology now for something that you might never need in some ‘future time’.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Tuesday
Nov202012

Passive Film Enhancement

Technical Q&A with AGDisplays

www.agdisplays.com

DA: What is passive film enhancement?

AGDisplays: Many times a passive, or film enhancement, can improve the optics when a particular gain is needed that doesn’t require a hardware change.

For instance, you can manipulate viewing angles, increase brightness, or reduce electromagnetic interference via a film enhancement. One great benefit of a passive enhancement is using a better film recipe than the manufacturer, ultimately resulting in a brighter display but at the stock power consumption level.

To increase the overall luminance and sunlight viewability on an LCD that will be viewed outdoors, you can kit together a passive film enhancement along with an AR film lamination. Laminating an anti-reflection film to the display surface can reduce reflection and aid the passive enhancement gain.

Often, passive film enhancements can increase a particular value, such as brightness, when integrating a touch screen, thus compensating for the luminance loss of the touch addition. Correctly being able to determine the film used by the original equipment manufacturer is a critical facet of designing a perfect solution for a customer.

Since cost is always a factor to be considered, AGDisplays often identifies multiple solution scenarios so the return on investment can be clearly identified for the client, allowing them to make the best decision for their project.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Tuesday
Nov202012

Problems for LCD Engineers

Technical Q&A with AGDisplays

www.agdisplays.com

DA: What is one problem in the display industry that engineers and manufacturers must address?

AGDisplays: This is a great question, but a tough one to answer at the same time.

In the display industry, the manufacturers are racing against many different obstacles. They are constantly evolving their product lines to better suit the market, while competing with the product lines of their competitors as well.

LCD part numbers can go into "end of life" status as display manufacturers eliminate the production of a specific part number from their production. The forecast and alert of this type of change is crucial to a company supporting a project that utilizes that particular display.

Receiving advance notice of these changes would allow for better reaction time for the companies supporting that manufacturer's product. Often, receiving samples can be a critical aspect of designing an LCD solution for a client. Ability to get samples and small quantity purchases can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Working with quality distributors can aid this as well, but ultimately the speed and availability of these requests can be a deciding factor into which manufacturer's display you will choose for your project.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Tuesday
Nov202012

Evolution of LCD Enhancements

Technical Q&A with AGDisplays

www.agdisplays.com

DA: Have display enhancement needs changed over the years? Do enhancements differ across vertical markets (military, industrial, etc.)?

AGDisplays: They have changed, over the last few years especially, as the LED backlight has replaced the CCFL backlight as the standard backlighting method.

There are LCDs deployed across all industries that have cold cathode fluorescent lamps in them, and companies are retrofitting those displays over to LED backlight technology as well. I think the biggest catalyst for change is the ever changing advancements in technology. As technology grows, an LCD's capability expands as well.

For instance, touch screens are now capable of many multi-touch features, a function that has opened the doors for many things. Combining that with the increase in display resolutions and you are able to design software to allow an easier human interface that was previously not possible.

There are also demands for power savings when using LCD’s in battery powered applications and handheld devices. The advancements in LED backlighting have aided this cause as well. Whether it's advancements in optical bonding, touch screens, or backlighting solutions, one thing is certain: necessity is the mother of invention!


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Tuesday
Nov202012

LCD Display Enhancement

Technical Q&A with AGDisplays

www.agdisplays.com

DA: What is the demand for display enhancement services?

AGDisplays: As manufacturers design LCDs, their end goal is often different than the LCD needs of equipment manufacturers who utilize LCDs in their devices.

Manufacturer designs are meant to accommodate the majority of the LCD market. When specialized equipment manufacturers select an LCD display for their application they often have additional needs or requirements that cannot be met by the original LCD manufacturer.

Enhancements of an LCD screen can be thought about in many different ways. A design that will require the display to be used in direct sunlight will likely need a transflective enhancement to utilize the ambient light and reduce reflection. ATM’s often use transflective enhancements along with touchscreens with anti-reflective coatings along with chemically strengthened glass. Heaters are often introduced into displays when extreme temperature fluctuations could compromise the liquid crystal and/or backlight function.

For military and defense equipment more and more applications are requiring NVIS compatibility modes to be incorporated into the design of the LCD. AGDisplays regularly enhances stock displays to be equipped with both high bright backlight systems for direct sunlight use and low bright night vision backlights, making the display usable with Night Vision goggles.

Regardless of the industry or application there are multiple ways to improve an LCD to better suit your design or product. Often, the gain can considerably outweigh the cost when it comes to delivering a better product to your customer, with better reliability and function.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


Tuesday
Nov202012

AGDisplays LCD Enhancement

Technical Q&A with AGDisplays

www.agdisplays.com

DA: How does a company like AGDisplays distinguish its services in the display industry?

AGDisplays: AGDisplays delivers full turn-key display solutions that enable our customers to focus on the other aspects of their projects, while relying on scheduled LCD shipments according to their production needs.

We pride ourselves on custom design solutions that enable our customers to deliver a quality product, on time, and within budget. In my experience, our customers use AGDisplays as their preferred LCD enhancement supplier because they have learned to rely on our quick quotation process, fast turnaround time, and quality workmanship.

Along with our design solutions and enhancement services we also offer repair services that allow companies to recoup loss through LCD repair. We will continue set ourselves apart through prompt customer service and reliable support that has become an AGDisplays standard.


For more Q&A visit the interviews section.

Email jason@displayalliance.com to promote your expertise and be interviewed.


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