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Markets: Digital Signage

customers: ComQi’s interaction manager allows them to see data and interactions in real time.”

It’s also easy to overlook how good the 3G coverage is in a proposed location, or the effect on potential users of a greasy, smeared screen, or the impact of a poor internet connection or bad integration between, for example, a kiosk application and backend applications like store stock levels.

“Another pitfall is running content on processors that are too slow and that cannot cope with the demands of the content,” notes Coghill-Smith. “Designers like to generate very processor-hungry Flash-based content that requires more expensive high- powered players to give users a satisfactory experience. This can be avoided by minimising animation and by designing content with HTML5 as this uses less processing power.”

Growth opportunity

Interactive digital signage may not yet be the de facto standard – but it looks set to continue to grow its share of the market. “I think we will see more and more applications at the high end of the market, where it has already become more common,” says Dynamax’s Smith. “We already have the possibility of transferring data across devices – and I think that will

really set off. Given these facts, it seems very likely that interactive digital signage will become the norm for those with the necessary resources.” Schwede, however, sounds a note of caution. “We have learned from the past that there will not be a big bang in this market,” he smiles. “Digital signage is becoming more and more important as a communication channel to the people who are out of home. Interactivity is the next step in the evolution of this channel. First, we used keyboards and buttons, then there was the touchscreen; maybe in the future, we will talk to the screen. The way people interact with machines is changing, and this will affect digital signage and its forms of interactivity – not vice versa.”

“It is probably too early to talk about successes or failures, but players such as JCDecaux and CBS Outdoor have run some interactive out-of-home campaigns in Europe that have been well received by the industry,” notes Harris’s Ludmer. “The technology is available now to enable these applications; it is now down to the technology suppliers to spread the word and educate the operators, brands and businesses to embrace these new opportunities to offer new benefits to their audience/clients.” ComQi’s Chowdhury is certainly signed up to that idea. “We’re very

Near field communications

‘The most

important type of interactivity

is touch’ Hugh Coghill-Smith, Onelan

positive about interactivity being at the heart of the future of digital signage,” he says, “and we’re putting a lot of money and technology into creating powerful interactive experiences.”

According to Forrester Research, by 2016, advertisers in the US alone will be spending $77 billion each year on all forms of interactive marketing – including digital signage. That’s as much as they spend today on TV commercials. If that level of investment is matched in Europe, the digital signage industry looks as if it will be a good place to be. IE

If you’ve ever watched the UK TV commercials for contactless credit cards, you’ve seen something like (but not) near field communication – NFC – in action. NFC is a technology that has many in the digital signage world excited because of the potential it holds for enabling the delivery of interactive experiences using consumers’ smartphones (unless they’re iPhones – but watch this space…). Like RFID, NFC is a short-range (usually up to 4cm) wireless technology. NFC comprises an initiator – typically, in digital signage, a mobile phone – and a target (an unpowered tag or sticker) which draws its power from the initiator.

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20 IE May 2012

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