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The Medium is the Message

May 24, 2010 12:00 PM, By Cynthia Wisehart

Content and technology drive digital signage.


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Apart from spending way too much time on tech blogs, Lenger says the team deliberately brings in experts from other industries—nightclubs, food, social networks—to talk about things that are starting a buzz. “We need to have a balanced, well-rounded outlook on what’s successful. We have to know what’s happening in the arts, science, religion culture,” he says. (Listen to TED talks, available at ted.com/talks, Lenger advises.)

Lenger’s Chief Technology Officer Manolo Almagro joined Show+Tell in 2008, coming over from the ad world at MarketForward (a Publicis Groupe company focused on emerging technologies), where he was senior VP and CTO. In addition to executives Warren Levy, Kent McVey, Genise Parker, and Lisa Kwon, Show+Tell also has “2.5 software engineers” inhouse and a Rolodex full of 3D artists, composers, furniture designers, and other specialties that support the custom nature of each job.

Lenger’s experience in broadcast and his history with the ABC sign also informs his technical viewpoint. The initial ABC sign was supplied by an LED sign manufacturer and integrated by ABC’s broadcast integrators. “At that time, we also specified functionality needed over the long haul,” he says. “Many of those features were value-engineered out, and the system worked for them for about five to six years. Then we got a chance to be in on the rebuild and show how it really should be done, particularly how the sign should be served—like in a true broadcast environment, not just by a clip player, which is a pretty dumb device. Today, directors want to cue things up, have a background bed, cue the animation, like they do in broadcasts. We couldn’t at the time find a sign system that could do all of that on a director’s cue. They were either playing or they weren’t playing. With the rebuild, we were able to implement sync to a SMPTE master and failure redundancy—the kind of things you would expect out of master control and broadcast playback devices.”

Technically, Lenger also tracks and uses devices from WireSpring, Danoo, and CoolSign , and technology that works with social networking APIs and hooks into RSS feeds. He also follows lighting and VJ technology—the world of ArKaos MediaMaster—to support live performance on digital signs.

“There are good features in all of them, but there is not one killer app for the signage,” Lenger says. “There are lots of apps, and sometimes none of them do everything the clients want right from scratch. So we’ll write code to make it happen.”

In systems integrators, in addition to long-standing relationships in New York, Lenger looks for local regional partners, depending on where jobs are located, as well as integrators who are comfortable with both broadcast-quality video and IP/IT networks.

Watch Show+Tell’s reel at www.showandtell.com/Digital_Out_Of_Home.php and take a look at the dynamic environments at www.showandtell.com/DynamicEnvironments.php.



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