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buton: an indispensable tool in today’s digital world. “Students of today come from the

‘digital baby’ generation who have grown up with the internet, making and consuming multimedia content,” said ONELAN’s Hugh Coghill-Smith. He added: “For a campus to

communicate effectively today we need to use these same methods. Traditional printed information such as noticeboards are simply outdated and no longer effective now that the audience expect more compelling and constantly updated information. In successful digital signage implementations, messages, instructions and information are being posted on a minute-by-minute basis by staff and students wishing to communicate with each other.” “You can communicate messages far

more easily using digital signage,” said Squareone’s Garnet Stewart. He added that it is much easier to roll

out messages across the whole of the campus very quickly than it would be to do the same with physical signage. At the same time, however, digital signage also makes it possible to have area-specific messaging. Stewart continued: “To give you an

example, a science building may wish to have some general information, say, a ticker-tape containing up-to-the- minute branding information, while also having specific science-related content. It’s possible to have very flexible solutions, and these are very easy to implement.” Efficiency and ease of use are, of

course, incredibly valuable qualities, but what about sustainability? After all, with the push toward green values in HE, isn’t there a danger in turning all information over to always-on screens? Thankfully, digital signage companies have considered this. “A lot of the major manufacturers are pushing toward emphasising sustainability,” said Brendan Nourse of Image Supply Systems. “I would especially point to the move

toward LED screens in recent years as an example of this thinking in action, since these are lighter and more energy efficient than what came before them.” Mark Cronin, technical director at

ONELAN similarly pointed out that sustainability is a key issue when the company designs its own hardware: something that is not just good for the environment, but also ensures long-time performance and reliability. “We are constantly considering how the amount

Mark Cronin

presented according to who it is that is standing in front of a screen at any given time, whether that be student or faculty member, male or female, or young or old.” What this essentially means is that

signage will be able to be made even more ‘granular’ than ever, with presented information not just made relevant to departments or specific buildings on campus, but the individuals who are looking at it. “This is really the logical next step for

signage,” said Brandon Nourse. “Google has been doing something similar for a number of years, where people who put in search words relating to a particular item then find themselves receiving customised results, or targeted advertising. This is something that has been discussed in signage for the past five years, or thereabouts. It’s clearly coming in the near future. We’ve just got to wait and see how it’s implemented.” What initially sounds like a seismic

jump for signage (essentially allowing every person to have their own customised signs) is already happening. A tech startup called Facedeals, based in Nashville, Tennessee, is equipping shops with facial recognition-enabled cameras, that allow retailers to scan customers and link them to their Facebook profiles, then target them with personalised offers and services based on the ‘likes’ they have expressed online. Closer to home, Tesco has begun


of energy consumed by our products can be lowered,” he said. “For example, some of our newer models have a typical power consumption of 15W.”

The way of the future “Digital signage has been a huge story over the last couple of years,” said Garnet Stewart. “At the same time it’s still in its relative infancy at the moment, and is growing and changing at a very rapid rate. To give you an example of what I mean, a number of manufacturers are now developing technologies that will allow different information to be

rolling out video screens at its checkouts around the UK: using inbuilt cameras to work out the age and gender of individual shoppers, so that tailored advertisements, which can be altered over time, depending on both the date and time of day, can be shown as you queue to pay for shopping. “It is time for a step-change in advertising,” said Simon Sugar, chief executive of Amscreen, who developed the OptimEyes technology behind the screens. He continued: “Brands deserve to know

not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their adverts, but who they are, too.” The potential of being able to apply

this technology to the HE realm might raise accusations of ‘creepiness’, but it could still prove revolutionary. As unthinkable as the idea might have been even 20 years ago, the concept that two different people in the same university space may see different information presented to them is in a very real sense the way of the future. ET

Screen image: © Yuriy Chaban |

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