Digital Signage

It’s All About Connections

Gearing up for the IoT ecosystem.

The application for networked AV that we’ve come to know as digital signage will continue to grow at a rapid pace as digital displays become smarter and less expensive, as networking becomes more versatile and ubiquitous, and as the tools for managing content and data become more powerful and easier to use. Digital signage has already grown far beyond the display of information and advertisements to become a central attraction for new and exciting experiences—through a growing universe of dynamic, intelligent and connected AV devices.

It was just about a decade ago when some bright engineers figured out that it would make signage distribution a lot easier if we used small PCs to connect flat-panel displays to the internet. Today, we have system-on-chip (SoC) displays that enable content storage, distribution and management, as well as viewer engagement and analytics from remote locations. We also have remote nodes with incredible power and intelligence that just happen to include displays, cameras, lights, beacons, near field communication (NFC) and radio frequency identification (RFID), and sensors of all kinds. Now, not every device in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosphere will be a signage node, but signage devices have been part of the IoT long before that concept became part of our popular culture.

As the trend toward creating experiential centers and brand-activation zones accelerates, I believe the key success factor will be the skill with which we combine new tools to connect people to their devices and to information. Although some new application ideas might come down the pike from manufacturing, advertising and media corporations, many innovative applications will emerge from brainstorming sessions between clients, designers, integrators, techs and “makers” who appreciate each other’s viewpoint and expertise. As we incorporate emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) into commercial media ecosystems, we’ll be better able to serve our clients and their brands, build our businesses and, not incidentally, experience more joy in our work.

During the past decade, through this monthly “Sign Age” column, I’ve attempted to steer your attention to the many creative ways new AV and IT technologies can be used for digital signage applications. We’ve looked at real-world solutions for touch, voice, mobile, kiosks, videowalls and facial recognition, as well as other emerging technologies. We’ve discussed privacy and security concerns, as well as topics such as automation in programmatic ad-space buying. And, we’ve seen that a large number of you have forged connections with professionals in other sectors of the industry to create incredible experiences for your clients. One that caught my interest—MeLab’s Health and Wellness experiential stations at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami FL—was born out of the combined efforts of experts in various disciplines at half a dozen companies.

Over the years, many of you have shared information and thoughts about your project challenges and successes—my thanks to each of you who did. This is my last “Sign Age” column, but, nevertheless, I hope you will continue to keep abreast of developments in the field, push the envelope on technology and embrace new IoT capabilities in your future projects. I look forward to reading about them.

Best wishes for a peaceful, connected life and a rewarding future!

Editor’s Note: Sound & Communications wishes to express its gratitude to Shonan for her many years of service not only in writing the “Sign Age” column, but also in formerly serving as Editor of IT/AV Report. Thank you, Shonan!

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