The Perspective 
Wednesday, 08 October 2014

By Christopher Hall

The aesthetics of digital signage and design — and the intermarriage of the two — are in flux. The idea behind digital signage is now in many cases as much about providing a digital experience as about advertising a sale or delivering a message. And design, specifically the design of a physical space, is becoming more and more about connecting people to place with experiences — experiences that can be provided or enhanced by digital signage.

A look at how the two can work, and in some cases already are working, together brought Justin Molloy, the director of education for The Society for Experiential Graphic Design, together with Matt Schmitt, the president and co-founder of in-store digital media solutions provider Reflect, at the recent Digital Screenmedia Association Symposium in Dallas.

"We don't want to just throw technology at the wall," Schmitt said during the duo's presentation, "Connecting People to Place Through Digital Experiences," that looked at how digital signage can help create the built space as an integrated design element as much as bricks or mortar are. "[Designers] want to understand how it complements the environment."

Digital signage and screen media have changed, as have the perceptions of them by outsiders, Molloy said. They are becoming viewed by architects and designers as a key part of a tool kit for creating branded experiences, and have moved beyond being seen as useful primarily for wayfinding or dynamic messaging, he said.

"Where does the screen end and where does the drywall begin?" he asked. "The traditional silos that have existed for so long have blurred."

The SEGD is a collective that bills itself as a "global, multidisciplinary community of professionals who plan, design and build experiences that connect people to place," according to its website, and it includes a range of "graphic and information designers, fabricators, architects, exhibition designers, technology integrators, interaction designers, brand strategists, students, wayfinding specialists, teachers and others who have a hand in shaping content-rich, experiential spaces."

"People are creating experiences that connect people to place," Molloy said. "They're creating that relationship between content and space."

Molloy provided captivating visual evidence of that with several video case studies — including one from the Yale School of Management in Connecticut and another from the lobby of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Both showed digital signage technology as an architectural and experiential medium that had more to do with how people experienced the built space.

At the Cosmopolitan, the digital signage is part and parcel of the built space, it seems, covering lobby pillars and creating a sensualized experience for visitors.

And at the Yale School of Management, not only did digital signage become a key component of the building and the experience of the space, data itself became a key element of the signage and the experience.

Still, despite the changes, one key thing remains the same, and that is that the merger of design and digital signage or experiential technologies still needs to have and achieve a defined objective, Schmitt said.

Schmitt started off the talk by going over a project his firm did for upscale jewelry chain James Avery in which digital signage was a key component of the new store design from the start. The process "really drove home" the value of having designers take part in the same discussions with marketers and technology providers, he said. The designers too often work in parallel with, or in isolation from, the other two, according to Schmitt.

"They need to be at the table," he said, rather than just being told they have to fit a screen in somewhere. "So they can make it seamless and still achieve the objective."

Posted by: Admin AT 09:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 13 August 2014

By Ben Johnston
RMG Networks

So you've decided what you need to satisfy that hunger is some good old fashioned digital signage.

Cooking Up Digital Signage

Nothing like using screens and software to motivate employees, shoppers, or whoever is coming over for dinner. No doubt you've put lots of thought into all the benefits:

  •  Better performance from more engaged and informed employees or
  •  Sales lift on items shown on displays in your store or
  •  Better decision making from your frontline employees

Regardless of what appeals to you, your mind is set. You want Digital Signage. But you're not quite sure how to get started. Well, stay tuned my hungry friend and I'll share with you the ingredients for Digital Signage a la mode.

Basic Ingredients of Digital Signage

  •  LCD Displays
  •  A place to hang them (walls are great)
  •  Media Player (basically a PC or computer that plays video)
  •  Content (stuff to put on the screens)
  •  Software to control the stuff you put on the screens
  •  Some cables, mounts and other doo-dads

Step 1: Hang the displays on the wall. Don't forget to use a level and make sure the displays are at eye level. Oh, and lift with your legs when unboxing the displays - we don't need any injuries on the job.

Step 2: Connect that media players to the displays. Hopefully you bought nice ones that are easy to install and play nicely with the other devices in your technology pantry. Season with the cables, mounts and other doo-dads.

Step 3: Fire up your Digital Signage software. Once properly heated, import your content and schedule it to play on the displays.

Step 4: Head to 7-11 and pick up your favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry's (I had to work in that a la mode promise).

Step 5: Back in the office, enjoy the fruits of your labor as your company's productivity soars and all your problems vanish like the hunger you felt before you ate the pint of Ben & Jerry's.

Alas, if only Digital Signage were so simple. In reality, the recipe for digital signage really isn't much different than the list above. But like a good recipe and quality ingredients make a gourmet meal, the right hardware and a well crafted content strategy separate the successful digital signage deployments from the failed pilots. 

Posted by: Admin AT 01:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 06 August 2014

Tracy Robertson
ADFLOW Networks

With 14 years of experience managing complex digital signage rollouts for some of the largest retailers in North America, we have developed a few best practices along the way. Deploying digital signage is not just hanging screens – it is about integrating the digital experience into the DNA of a store’s design. From considerations around cabling to positioning media players and digital screens, here are some of the lessons we’ve learned that save time and money and ensure our clients get the most value from their investment.

1. A site survey streamlines the installation process.

Conducting a site survey before the installation identifies the right mount for the solution upfront. For example, in cases when a site survey isn’t done beforehand, the installer may not realize that the media player is going to be mounted on a cement wall, which requires a ceiling mount. The site survey also prevents problems with cabling; we’ve seen situations where clients must redo cabling because they didn’t factor in the impact of other electrical devices in the store and that can be costly.

2. The optimal location boosts the effectiveness of digital signage.

Attracting the attention of shoppers is key to a successful retail digital signage project. Unfortunately, when installing cabling the tendency is to just put the screen close to the power source which isn’t always the optimal location. Even if cables need to be changed or the power moved, it is important to take the time to determine the right screen location for the best impact. Understanding the goals behind the installation of the digital signage helps determine the proper placement. Before you install your screens, ask yourself “what behavior am I trying to encourage with these screens?” This simple question will force you to think through screen placement and store traffic patterns.

3. The right cabling set-up is critical.

When we arrive at locations where someone else has done the installation, often the cables are running here, there and everywhere and nothing is tied down. Cabling shouldn’t look like a spaghetti dinner. Taking the time to meticulously label and tie down each cable so it’s well organized will save time and avoid headaches in the long run. That way if you need to resolve a problem in the future, it’s easier to determine which cable is causing the issue.

4. Purpose-built media players enhance digital signage solutions.

We see people using a regular PC to deploy digital signage and then experiencing jittery content or issues with content that won’t play properly. Using media players that are purpose-built for digital signage and custom-designed for your applications provides greater reliability and better results.

5. All screens are not created equal.

Some people use consumer TVs for their digital signage solutions, however, home TVs are not meant to run 24/7 so they end up failing, which is costly. If you are serious about providing a superior customer experience, it pays to use commercial screens, which are designed to run continuously while maintaining a sharp, high quality picture.

6. Good communication is an essential part of the process.

We do a number of things to keep the lines of communication open including site surveys so everyone is on the same page about the project. Another critical activity we do on all installations is to create a wire diagram using a store layout and architectural drawings to detail the engineer’s designs for the mounting and placement of digital signage. When a technician goes to do the installation, they have a clearly laid-out plan of every engineered detail of the solution. In cases where a company has their own installation team, we provide instructions and direction.

7. A strong project plan helps mitigate risk.

Everyone involved should know what needs to get done, when, how and who is responsible. This will prevent problems such as components not arriving on time. If you are planning renovations, the project manager can coordinate them to dovetail perfectly with the digital signage installation to avoid extra costs. Perfect execution is critical. If a new store has a grand opening, sometimes there is a narrow window to get the installation done.

8. A support team is invaluable for resolving installation issues.

When you encounter issues, having access to a knowledgeable support team is critical. We have a remote online monitoring system that enables us to ensure the media player is working properly before the installation is completed. When issues arise, we can proactively reach out to resolve them before our customers even realize there’s a problem.

Posted by: Admin AT 07:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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