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Digital Signage

Set for explosive growth

Jose Avalos, Director of Retail & Digital Signage at Intel Corporation explains the company’s work in the area of digital signage, the opportunities this burgeoning market offers and talks to Neil Tyler about its recently launched third generation evaluation kit

Neil Tyler: How would you describe Intel's activity in the digital signage space today?

Jose Avalos: Today, Intel is the leading supplier of computing solutions in the digital signage space worldwide. Being part of such a fast-paced and technologically progressive industry, we’ve become increasingly adaptable – and you have to be. Intel architecture solutions provide scalability from entry level, to mainstream and to high end solutions.

For example, Intel Core i5 platforms for mainstream digital signage applications support energy efficient and remote management capabilities for reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), whilst delivering high performance for anonymous viewer analytics that increase Return on Investment (ROI) for advertising networks and Return on Objective (ROO) for information networks. The platforms also support rich media and graphics processing for branded interactive experiences and 1-to- 1 marketing. Intel also provides the industry with its Intel Audience Impression Metric (AIM) Suite, an audience analytics service for digital signage networks. This solution enables brands and networks to objectively and anonymously measure audience demographics including gender and age group. Importantly, it makes it possible to analyse viewer interactions with digital signs, in order to optimise the content they deliver. Moreover, Intel drives initiatives intended to fuel the growth of the industry, from standards-based evaluation and development platforms to industry standards such as the Intel Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) for display media player integration.

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NT: What are the main challenges that currently face the digital signage industry?

JA: The two main challenges facing the industry today are objective measurement of campaigns over digital signage networks and the cost of content creation. Today digital signage is the fastest

growing media and Out Of Home (OOH) is the number two reach and exposure media after television. However, despite getting its share of consumer “eye balls” time, digital signage is getting less than 1% share of the global ad spend. We feel that the main gap limiting the flow of ad money into digital signage is the lack of quantifiable audience measurement technologies for ROI and ROO. Intel AIM Suite starts addressing this issue by giving a fundamental demographic of the people viewing a sign - this could be gender, age, or length of viewer attention. This knowledge gives retailers and advertisers greater accuracy in their ROI tracking, leading to the delivery of more relevant content for individual viewers. Content creation consumes a significant portion of the overall TCO of operating a network, and this is exacerbated by the increased consumer demand for fresh content across platforms. These two challenges are getting

increased industry attention and it is expected that we will continue to see innovation in these areas.

NT: What are the benefits of the recently launched third generation evaluation kit?

JA: Intel’s Digital Signage Evaluation Kit (DSEK-12) has been designed to significantly reduce evaluation and development effort, and provides multiple

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benefits. First, the digital signage ecosystem now has access to an inexpensive standards-based development platform for hardware, software, applications and services. Second, the evaluation kit hardware can easily be deployed into stand-alone table top media players or into Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) form factor media player solutions. Third, the evaluation kit hardware is available at production level from a leading OEM directly or from two leading distributors. Finally, the evaluation kit provides an integrated solution consisting of hardware, OS, content scheduling, content creation and viewer analytics software, effectively accelerating the time to market for digital signage solution vendors.

NT: How will it help accelerate the design process in terms of rolling out and getting to market new digital signage solutions?

JA: As soon as you open the kit, it’s possible to begin developing your digital signage solution. Immediately, developers can focus on prototyping the application. With a reduced risk of integration issues, coupled with an increase in design flexibility for screen options due to its interoperability with both OPS supported and non OPS supported displays, the feature set of the DSEK-12 means that screen platform planning is no longer limited by technology fragmentation. Benefits like this will enable solution providers to focus on digital signage applications instead of the technology building blocks needed for mainstream media players. Once the programming element of the

process is complete, the Kontron OPS- compliant media player KOPS800 can be used as an external media player, or the OPS module can be removed and placed immediately into an OPS-compliant display - allowing for rapid deployment.

NT: How big is the digital signage market? And going forward, say over the next 5 years, how big do you think it will become?

JA: Intel-funded research predicts that the digital signage market will reach 22 million

screens and 10 million corresponding media players by 2015, from 10 million screens and 4 million media players today. We’re also expecting an explosion of retrofits to discrete legacy systems worldwide.

At the moment the largest industries in

order of size globally are Retail, Corporate, Transportation and Banking. Whilst in most parts of the world Retail is the largest digital signage industry, the exception is China where Transportation is king mainly due to significant government investment.

NT: Where are you seeing growth and from which vertical markets? What are the challenges you face in addressing different markets, for example comparing the retail market with the market for transport or between the US/Europe and China?

JA: We are seeing global growth across all digital signage verticals from Retail to Healthcare to Hospitality. The main challenge we face however is

fragmentation. For example, most content management and content creation companies are localised to specific countries or regions, and as a result we must work with different ecosystem players across different vertical industries and regions.

NT: While the market for digital signage is currently very fragmented is that beginning to change? And if it's not, how can you standardise an evaluation kit if that is the case?

JA: Over the last few years we have been seeing some consolidation around Intel Architecture as the compute engine for mainstream digital signage, and we expect to see it going forward on the content scheduling and content creation fronts. This consolidation has helped us drive standardisation of the hardware platform via our evaluation kits and OPS. It should be noted that fragmentation

also offers some benefits to the industry, for example it has allowed the industry to achieve increased levels of innovation and to deliver localised solutions to local needs. ■

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