Technologies Impacting the Future of Digital Signage
Earlier this spring, fans attending the NBA playoffs at Salt Lake City’s Vivint Center to witness home team the Utah Jazz play bore witness to a first: the first stadium-wide deployment of Samsung’s SoC (System-on-Chip) Smart Signage displays, which drove the stadium’s media content with embedded System-on-Chip (SoC) media players and Samsung’s Tizen operating system to 600 screens. Integrated by solutions provider RevelTV, the system also includes a first-of-its-kind IPTV system in the premium club and suite areas.
Samsung’s SoC digital signage solution is one of many new innovations changing how newer LED and LCD displays are designed and integrated in the channel. Along with anticipated higher resolutions, bigger screen real estate, and interactivity, there is now talk of everything from the integration of artificial intelligence and the networking possibilities that 5G will open up for digital signage applications in the near future.
“One of the biggest challenges with digital signage has always been around infrastructure, trying to understand what is necessary to support the solution and how much additional cost does that mean,” noted Bryan Meszaros, CEO and founder of OpenEye Global. “With continued development and adoption of SoC a lot of these headaches are going away making it easier for a variety of organizations to deploy solutions.”
Meszaros identified QSR as one vertical that has experienced growth thanks to SoC, noting that the cost-conscious sector, once bogged down with the expense of a PC, software and content, has been able to reduce infrastructure costs by allowing its integrators to provide clients with solutions where more value could be placed on content rather than sacrificing the budget to accommodate a display.
Jonathan Shor, senior account manager at Verrex has also observed another trend: the increase in pixel density of screens used in digital signage applications — an evolution that has raised some challenges, notably the lag between delivering higher resolutions and frame rates and the actual display technology.
“Manufacturers are only now coming out with 4K 60fps with 4:4:4 color space, but displays are moving quickly past that to 8K and beyond,” Shor said. “This has also presented challenges in creating content. For higher resolution displays, content looks best using native resolution. Media players have to support that but what makes it even more difficult is the higher frame rate. This yields much larger files, however, they still need to play back in perfect motion.
“Most video content within an organizations is 1080p and 4K. So in order to take full advantage of native resolution, custom content needs to be created. This is a costly process and needs to be constantly updated in order to keep the message fresh and topical.”
Interactive digital signage displays have been around for a long time, but with the recent advent of a number of retail analytics platforms from major manufacturers, interactivity is gaining a new layer of importance — essentially driving renewed interest in the use of digital signage beyond wayfinding and advertising.
VR, AR, AI
The chatter around virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and projection technologies has seeped into the digital signage channel as a supplemental discussion of expanded interactivity. Can these technologies influence future display design?
“The use and role of these technologies depend on the environment they are being used in,” said Meszaros. “For example, I don’t see VR as a viable technology in retail given that is more of a “playful” experience than something I could see leading towards a call to action. With any of these technologies it comes down to the use case and the way it is being woven into the experience.”
Shor agrees with Meszaros to some extent, noting that “VR/AR technologies are use case specific; they are not meant for transient viewership”, but goes on to illustrate how the technology, already viably used in the smart home consumer sector as a visualization home décor and 3D modeling tool, can be used in digital signage applications.
“By combining AI and VR/AR, digital signage will be to personalize the message for the individual,” Shor noted. “This is already happening on the internet by tracking websites people visit. But this will be taken to a larger scale and made to be even more real time. We are finally catching up to Minority Report.”
Beyond technological enhancements, new digital signage display designs may come from the cataloging of in-field usage such as DOOH and large venues to create displays that are more integration friendly and, by extension, of benefit to display owners and their target audience. To achieve this next-generation displays will have to take onboard everything from software considerations to networking infrastructures.