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Picture This: Digital Signage That’ll Grab You

Apr 10, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

The 3D trend could position digital signage in a new light.

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3D content is becoming increasingly available now that movie, television, and commercial animation is created digitally. Although that likely doesn’t translate directly to appropriate digital-signage content except perhaps at cinema complexes and large sports arenas that would run trailers and broadcast-ready ad video. However, it is getting better and easier to create as 3D software matures, and the increased level of digital content creation at the high end means that there is an increasing field of 3D artists able to generate custom content. For large installations, retaining that expertise may be a cost-effective proposition.

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The fate of 3D digital signage probably isn’t inextricably linked to the success of 3D movies or any future trend toward 3D TV, since the digital-signage experience is more limited in viewing time. Yet there’s little doubt that the broader trend toward 3D should increase the awareness and appeal of 3D, including with public displays. Unlike other technologies, early adopters may be in the best position to capitalize on the wow factor.

Philips offers plug-ins for popular 3D creation tools, such as Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, that reformat 3D animation into Philips’ 2D-plus-depth format, storing the Z-axis-depth information as a grayscale map that the display will use to build the multiple viewing spots. At the same time, Philips also offers two software products— BlueBox and WOWvx Compositor—that can add that same Z-axis-depth information to existing 2D content, including straightforward text-based material, thereby generating the 2D-plus-depth format that will produce the reach-out-and-grab-you effect on the panels.

That makes 3D digital signage sound possible, perhaps even promising. Although it remains to be seen whether there’s a broad market for 3D in digital signage. It’s also unclear whether broad adoption of 3D digital signage would ultimately decrease the critical novelty factor. Insight Media’s autostereoscopic 3D report takes an in-depth look at the state of the technology, with an independent analysis of the 3D-digital-signage business model for each of a large number of sectors. These include shopping malls, public offices, sports venues, theme parks and other entertainment locations, museums, and transportation hubs—each with its own set of goals and value calculations.

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