When presented with the opportunity to opine on Digital Signage Future Trends, I thought it best to ground myself with some basic definitions. I’ve always been skeptical about the use of the term Visionary – a person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like (thanks Wikipedia) -because I often am not impressed with the people or ideas that are promoted as such. But I do think, after all the years building, deploying and supporting digital signage systems in a wide variety of contexts, I have a somewhat unique way of looking at the market. At least, I’ve never seen or heard anyone use this approach.
Digital Signage is, first, a communication medium. To effectively communicate, you need a clear understanding of the audience, the medium, the timing, the MESSAGE and the response. Seems simple enough.
So what are the Future Trends I see for Digital Signage?
Technology can and will continue to play a part in objectively determining the audience (size and make up) of any participating device. There will be some bumps in the road as public opinion and laws are formed to clearly define anonymous audience analytics from facial recognition and tracking. But the revenue implications for targeted content are so large in the primary digital signage market segments (i.e., retail and transportation) this will be solved. Digital Signage vendors participating from content creation through software triggers through hardware (e.g., cameras and beacons) manufacturers must assume this will happen to be competitive.
Watching the innovation from the display device manufacturers these last 15 years has been one of the greatest highlights of working in digital signage. From 3D projection to media sticks, from interactive and impressive experiences to flexible LED displays, and more to come. Remember when we thought a sub-$1,000 USD flat screen was the key to the digital signage explosion? It’s hard to imagine any limitations with laser projection and mobile devices. We humans like to look at shiny objects and digital signage – maybe, second only to the movie industry – is the place for those seriously interested in functional shiny objects.
It is comforting that the fundamental tenet of “networked” digital signage is still one of the market’s main drivers. We have all heard it and many of us have used it – the right message (or content) to the right people at the right time. As a software guy by trade, I have been building systems to deliver on this promise since the late 90s. For those of you out there deep inside the CMS and content transmission software, you know designing for all the permutations required to meet the market needs is a reasonably challenging engineering task. Add in the continuous appearance of new endpoints and their sometimes quirky behaviors and needs; the often poor network connectivity and you wonder what it will be like when we really have the promised ubiquitous always-on broad band connectivity.