Clients, Displays

Digital signage future industry trends

The market for digital signage is moving fast – here’s what to look out for in the future.

Digital signage is still in its infancy, so it’s little surprise that the platform is evolving at an incredible rate as companies discover new and innovative ways to inject digital into their presentations. Earlier this year, Las Vegas played host to the Digital Signage Expo, and it revealed some exciting new developments and trends offering both short-term and long-term opportunities. Here’s what to look out for in the coming months and years.

Big, small and everything in-between
Digital signage units have naturally been scaling up – particularly with one eye on the outdoor billboard market. For those looking at taking digital signage into the outdoors, a January 2015 marketing study predicted that digital signage is a key driver in growing the global market. It pointed out that oversized digital billboards more easily capture – and then hold – the audience’s attention thanks to their size and location. One particularly fertile area earmarked for growth is along transport routes thanks to the rise in urban living and longer commuting times.

Hand-in-hand with the continued growth of larger units is the unveiling of ultra-high definition 4K digital signage displays, but it’s important to realise that you’ll need to do more than simply invest in the display itself. You’ll also need to make sure your content is optimised for the larger screen – that means encoding it at higher resolutions than traditional HD. The format to look for is H.265, which has evolved specifically to support 4K displays. Also make sure your 4K unit comes with a HDMI 2.0 connection to ensure it’s capable of handling all that extra data.

It’s not just about making things as large as possible, however, a number of exhibitors showed off smaller devices that highlight the fact that digital signage’s future is all about offering businesses the maximum range of choice. 10-inch displays are already available, but how about taking a trip into the future with an ultra-thin (and transparent) OLED display, due to appear in 2016?

And it’s not just about 2D – a number of three-dimensional units are also starting to make an appearance, from virtual 3D holographic displays giving viewers a 360-degree look at new products to full-sized virtual assistants, able to offer advice and directions for those who need it.

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Content delivery
The way content is sent to your digital signage displays is evolving too. The growth in IP streaming – which delivers content wirelessly over the internet and networks – is driven by its versatility and the fact it’s less expensive than traditional video distribution systems. IP streaming is also more flexible in that the technology supports multiple streams as well as both HD and 4K content.

One way in which IP streaming will make things easier when it comes to delivering content is by allowing you to manage multiple displays from a single source. And if you’re happy to work with HD content only, then the technology is already here in the form of the Pico Broadcaster, which effectively turns your display into an ‘internal TV station’ by wirelessly streaming HD content to any (and all) displays within a 106-metre radius. It’s currently only available in the US, but we expect it to roll out worldwide sooner rather than later.

Smarter displays
It’s not just about the size of your display, either: the future of digital signage sees content becoming more interactive and smart too. One way this has already been achieved is through the use of touch-screen displays – Flatfrog showed off a giant 78-inch curved digital signage display at the Expo, which boasted pressure detection and no less than 80 touch points for maximum interaction potential.

Another innovative use of digital signage displays can be seen in the way Women’s Aid recently used facial recognition technology to monitor the number of people who watched its ad about domestic violence. As people turned to view the ad, the woman’s injuries started to heal, helping drive home the message that acknowledging violence in the home is the first step towards solving it.

Look out too for innovations that make it possible for your digital signage display to interact with people via smart apps on their phones – not only does this give them more control over what they view and engage with, it provides options for data capture too. Which leads us neatly on to…

Analytics is becoming key
Organisations increasingly want their digital signage to be able to capture data as well as share content, for all manner of purposes – obviously targeted marketing is one, but also to deliver a more personalised user experience that improves your message deliverability or opportunities for capturing a sale.

Another use of analytics is to deliver predictive modelling, which companies hope will be able to help them anticipate what their customers are looking for, enabling them to deliver it to them before they even know they want it (never mind start looking for it!). One way this could be delivered is through using facial recognition software to determine a viewer’s mood before delivering content designed to improve it.

Big data is already with us, and people are happily surrendering their anonymity and privacy in return for convenience. Nevertheless, as the industry starts capturing more data, it will need to address privacy concerns – Intel recently talked about the opportunities of incorporating anonymous data capture into digital signage as part of a more personalised advertising experience. It goes without saying that a fine line will need be trodden in order to avoid the risk of alienating users through loss of privacy, even in this age where anyone who uses the Internet is effectively making a large part of their life public.

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