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Vital Signs: Trends in Digital Signage

Digital signage has become a must-have AV application. Today, added-value technologies, such as interactive software and wireless networking, are breathing fresh life into new digital signage projects.

That Little Extra Pop

What> Projected Signage
Where> Swiss Farms Grocery Stores, Broomall, Pa.

No, it's not a Swiss Farms installation, but when Advanced AV is finished with the digital signage project for the Broomall, Pa.-based grocery stores, it will include 3M's Vikuiti rear-projection film screen technology, seen here. The Vikuiti technology makes for an interesting visual effect that can be seen in light and dark conditions.

No, it's not a Swiss Farms installation, but when Advanced AV is finished with the digital signage project for the Broomall, Pa.-based grocery stores, it will include 3M's Vikuiti rear-projection film screen technology, seen here. The Vikuiti technology makes for an interesting visual effect that can be seen in light and dark conditions.

Now garnering about 10 percent of its overall revenue from the digital signage market, West Chester, Pa.-based Advanced AV prides itself on execution of tried-and-true technology.

"We don't do a lot of the fancy stuff," says Vince Faville of the AV integrator. The company recently signed a deal with Broomall, Pa.-based Swiss Farms to outfit 13 of the company's drive-through grocery stores with new signage systems.

At completion, each Swiss Farms outlet will have a bank of four 46-inch NEC 20 Series monitors, mounted in a 4x1 alignment, flanking both sides of the store.

When visitors drive up to the building, a sonic sensor will trigger the signage's welcome sign to give way to a list of inventory, prices, and specials. Each four-display sign will be driven by a PC loaded with CoolSign digital signage software and networked with Swiss Farms headquarters in Broomall, where control of the signage is handled.

The digital system will have huge benefits for the convenience-based retail operation. From headquarters, administrators can establish a uniform look and feel for the signage. They can also make adjustments based on pricing and inventory fluctuations for staple goods like milk, coffee, and bread without having to rely on input from the largely teenaged staff working in the stores.

And while this kind of system doesn't necessarily rise to the level of "fancy stuff" in today's digital signage market, Faville says the company and its client are adding an extra element to the overall system in order to give the signage that extra visual pop.

Each store, he says, will have 3M Vikuiti rear-projection film screen installed in one of its main windows with a 3,500 ANSI lumen NEC LCD projector displaying advertisements onto the screen surface when the store is closed at night.

The eerie effect created by the Vikuiti film, which is sticky on one side and can be cut into almost any shape, will provide a unique visual presence that draws attention in a way that conventional digital signage cannot.

"We're not sure what shape we're going to cut this film into and how exactly we're going to set the projection system up, but when we're done, it's going to draw attention and create brand awareness," Faville says.

He adds that when negotiating with Swiss Farms officials for the project, this added visual pop gave Advanced AV a decided technological edge in terms of acquiring the business. "They almost jumped out of their seats when we explained to them what it is and how it works."

Daniel Frankel is a reporter for Variety and a freelance AV writer. He's based in Los Angeles. Pro AV editor Brad Grimes contributed to this article.



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