Leading up to Digital Signage Expo 2015, Commercial Integrator and TechDecisions Editor-in-Chief Tom LeBlanc chatted with BrightSign CEO Jeff Hastings about the future of the industry. As a manufacturer of digital signage players, including recent introductions at both the high and low ends of the market, he’s uniquely qualified to comment on the overall state of demand for digital signage. He talks about everything from 4K and HDMI 2.0 to the “blue screen of death.”
TL: What have you seen in terms of demand for 4K content since you launched BrightSign 4K?
Hastings: We announced it about a year ago at ISE [but shipped in September]. We’ve seen two things happening.
First is the kind of ecosystem, if you will, is just now coming together — so displays with HDMI 2.0, the ability to encode content with H.265, which keeps file sizes for 4K kind of the same size as 1080p files so it’s a really big breakthrough on the compression side.
Then the panels with all the stuff integrated are just now coming out. So basically in Q4 we saw some really good adoption from two different segments — one from the early adopters [and] television manufacturers on the consumer side wanting to be able to demonstrate their TVs, because there is really no other media player that’s solid-state that they can put in a retail environment. So we did a reasonable number of those.
Then a lot of other folks are buying our 4K player because of the extreme capabilities of the HTML performance and the video performance even using it with 1080p. What’s happening here in the first quarter is I think you’ll see most of the commercial manufacturers bringing out their 4K TVs with HDMI 2.0. That was kind of a limitation.
In the fourth quarter the commercial TV still had HDMI 1.0, which only gives you 30 frames per second for the 4K, and all the consumer TV manufacturers came out in Q4 with HDMI 2.0 and typically what happens is three to six months later the commercial versions come out. So we’re really looking forward to the commercial versions coming out here in the first part of the year.
TL: You recently launched BrightSign LS targeted at the lower end of the digital signage market. What are you seeing in terms of how both the low and high end of the market is developing?
Hastings: There are kind of three things happening in the overall digital signage market.
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