Love Those Digital Signs!

The folks at ExpoNation LLC happily reported last week that ever since their Digital Signage Expo moved to Las Vegas four years ago, attendance and exhibitor participation has increased every year.

Arenas and stadiums are big users of digital signs. This sign on display at the Digital Signage Expo featured running video of an arena sporting event in the upper right-hand corner,
Photo by Diane Taylor

VP of Show Operations Russ Eisenhardt noted these record-breaking statistics for the 2011 show: pre-registration was up 5 percent (putting attendance at 5000 plus), and conference sales were up 25 percent. An all-time record was also set with 195 exhibitors in 60, 260 net square feet of Las Vegas Convention Center exhibit space. (Yes, Digital Signage Expo will be returning to Las Vegas next year.)

Why the growth of digital signage as an industry? “Where we are seeing particular expansion is in the design of private networks,” said Eisenhardt. “Retailers, for example, can have screens in stores all over the world with content delivered to each one instantly with just a click of a mouse on a laptop computer.”

Eisenhardt continued, “For many reasons, Las Vegas is a great place to hold an international event. In our case, Las Vegas is also a leader in the usage of digital signage. Again this year we sponsored a guided installation tour of some of the best digital signage locations here including Caesars Entertainment network, the Miracle Mile Shops and M Resort Spa Casino. The tour was sold out.”

Touring the trade show floor, one sees brightly lit digital signs in all sizes. Exhibitors include the folks who provide and build the hardware, design the content and deliver the networks. Attendees include advertisers, brand managers, consultants and end users such as retailers, restaurants, museums, hospitals, airports, stadiums and banks.

As a novice, I asked Michael O’Halloran in the Samsung exhibit about the popularity of some of the larger signs being projected in “sections” – providing a large picture over what look like a number of smaller screens. He said the answer (which should have been obvious to me) is price. A 62-inch display using several smaller screens may cost $7,000 to $30,000, he said, while one large 62-inch display may cost $50,000 to $60,000. (And I thought it was all an artistic preference.)

Personally, I’ve always found those lines between screens within a large picture or video to be somewhat off-putting. However, the folks at a company called “Prysm” exhibited a Laser Phosphor Display using a number of tiles, but the tile edges all but disappeared, forming one almost-uninterrupted continuous picture. Furthermore, we were told the power requirement for Laser Phosphor is 75 percent less than older technologies. Customers do pay “a slight premium” for a Laser Phosphor Display.

Behind each digital sign is a network of hardware.
Photo by Diane Taylor

A young German, Sebastian Schoch, was very busy at the Intel booth with an Adidas wall featuring shoes of many colors and designs. The point of the display was to allow a potential customer to select a shoe design, touch the screen to twirl the digital shoe and examine it front to back, top to bottom. Should a customer then want to try on that shoe, that request would be indicated on the screen and a store clerk would bring the shoe from the back or, if that particular shoe were not in stock, the customer would try on a similar shoe for fit, and the selected shoe would be mailed to the customer. Such a shoe display, explained Schock, means that even stores that cannot stock a whole inventory of Adidas shoes could, nonetheless, sell every design.

“And when does this new shoe-selection-wall appear in real stores?” I asked. “Soon,” says Schock. When pressed for more specifics, his answer, with a smile was, “Soon is soon.”

One tidbit of information I picked up at the show was that because of rules associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a digital sign hung on a wall in a public place cannot protrude more than four inches from the wall. Yes, some thinner-than-four-inches signs exist, but in many cases, the hardware required behind the scenes requires a build-out of more than four inches. The solution: signs recessed into the walls.

The digital signage world like almost everything else these days is a global world. Among the exhibitors at Digital Signage Expo were companies from Taiwan (an entire pavillion was devoted to Taiwanese companies), Korea, Canada, Japan, France, Hungary, the United Kingdom and Israel.


2 responses on “Love Those Digital Signs!

  1. Wow, that’s one of your best video reports yet. Very informative and really cool technology!

    I really loved that shoe display and some of the other merchandising options, are very intriguing for my own business ventures!


  2. Another great story. Having an electronics back ground I am truly amazed how so much has advanced since I have retired. I guess it’s time to go back to the books. Thanks again for another eye opener.

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