Technology Showcase: Turnkey Digital Signage Systems
Jun 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jay Ankeney
New out-of-the-box solutions simplify signage.
If you want a digital signage system installed soup-to-nuts, most people have traditionally gone to systems integrators or value-added retailers who can consult on their needs, know all the best-of-breed components available, and can oversee the whole installation based on their years of expertise.
It’s a wonderful service and very valuable for institutions that can afford it. But in these difficult economic times, some smaller operations or those with pinched budgets are turning to turnkey digital signage systems that can be installed without mounds of paperwork or advanced outside technological support. Setting up your own turnkey signage also avoids the cost of SaaS (software as a service) hosting fees of managed systemsbut then again, when flying on your own, you have to chart your own course. (More on SaaS.)
Digital signage systems have come to be known by many names including “captive-audience networks,” “narrowcasting,” and “place-based media.” Fans of The Simpsons will enjoy the fact that it has also come to be known as “digital out-of-home,” abbreviated as DOOH, which Homer would probably accompany with a head slap. But these days, highly intelligent turnkey digital signage systems are bringing this personalized communication technology into the reach of even modest enterprises.
Digital signage, which has the advantage of directly communicating with potential customers and audiences seeking information, is experiencing healthy growth despite our anemic economy. According to ABI Research, a worldwide market-research firm covering the digital signage industry among other digital media market areas, the United States’ total digital signage market revenues (including hardware, software, installation, and maintenance) in 2008 were in the range of $630 million to $670 million. ABI Research predicts that 2009 looks even better, with the overall digital signage market in the United States expected to grow by about 33 percent.
There are many reasons for this trend, including the decline in the appeal of traditional advertising media and the ability of digital signs to be updated in realtime to accommodate late-breaking news as well as the changes in their situational installation. In an emergency, people look to the nearest digital signage display for help. In addition, the costs of the technology behind them including display, software installation, and media distribution are falling compared to mainstream advertising and other informational venues.
On the other hand, an extensive digital signage network can be expensive to install, and that investment is mostly upfront. That is one reason simpler, turnkey digital signage systems have been gaining recognition in the marketplacealthough their overall impact has yet to be determined.
A very valuable innovation, however, has been the development of technologies that can enable even turnkey digital signage systems to quantify their ROI. For example, TruMedia Technologies has become a leading provider of automated realtime audience-measurement solutions for the out-of-home-display industry. The company’s proprietary analytics technology actually measures viewers’ visual attention toward posters, digital signs, TV monitors, display windows, and in-store product displays. It can also automatically change the display’s content based on the number of viewers, their gender and age, and other factors.
The system is so simple, it can be installed without specialized help even on a turnkey digital signage system. Basically, you mount an 8”x2” box containing one or two cameras above or below the digital display, and it sends its information to a passive iCapture smart-box, which records data about the viewer. Then a user can configure its operation via a web portal and get realtime feedback on who is watching your on-site display so you can tailor its information to best suit the viewers’ needs.
It should be noted that TruMedia uses totally anonymous face tracking and nothing is ever recorded, so it obviates concerns about privacy invasion. This technology is so safe it is even permitted inside hospitals without violating the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.
Turnkey digital signage systems can range from a simple PowerPoint presentation on a commercial TV screen to highly evolved graphics displays incorporating eye-catching live video feeds. Although it’s still an amorphous sector of the nonbroadcast information display field, here is a look at some of the most interesting turnkey digital signage offerings from companies that are leaders in that field.
Acceptable Use Policy blog comments powered by Disqus