Blog: Jeff Hastings 
Jeff Hastings (Bio)
Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A construction boom is happening globally. Professional and collegiate athletic facilities around the world are either being renovated or built new from the ground up. A reported $3.6 billion was spent on stadium works for the World Cup alone. Wikipedia chronicles an extensive list of 75 stadiums currently under construction around the world with seating capacity from 5,000 up to 100,000.

What's interesting to me is to observe how integral a role digital signage is playing in bringing about this next generation of sporting venues. The economics of spectator sport complexes has changed dramatically. In these newer facilities, you would have a hard time going anywhere that wasn't within eyeshot of a digital screen. Believe it or not, 30 years ago the "Jumbotron" next to the scoreboard was the only screen in the entire place. Now we have screens at the concession stands, in restaurants, in seat backs, in the causeway, in VIP hospitality suites and even in the bathrooms. And those grainy jumbotrons have been replaced by LED screens measuring hundreds of feet across. This is clearly an enormous opportunity for the digital signage industry.

No doubt the proliferation of digital displays in sporting venues has revolutionized the spectator experience. But beyond this obvious development, I believe that digital signage has opened up a huge opportunity for stadium owners to generate additional revenue by hosting events outside their core sports. These new venues now host corporate functions, private receptions, other sporting events and even community events. A BIG reason this is now possible is that signage is no longer static. With the flip of a switch, every screen in the stadium can change over to reflect another corporate (or team) identity. The chameleon-like ability of these new venues to reinvent themselves to accommodate additional teams and organizations gives near-limitless possibilities to the number of and types of events a stadium can host.

There's no turning back — every new sporting facility will be built for visual impact, and designed with digital signage at the core of the fan experience. Fans will enjoy a much richer experience in the stands, and stadium owners will enjoy new revenue streams with a dramatic increase in outside events they can host.

Posted by: Admin AT 11:06 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Thursday, 22 August 2013

In the digital signage industry, we are masters at creating jaw-dropping visuals. Video walls, custom-shaped screens and video columns show how we continue to push the bounds of what is possible with modern digital signage. But something I find particularly interesting is how digital signage is evolving ‘beyond the screen’ to create a more sensory experience that is as entertaining as it is effective.

One such example is Pixels, one of our UK system integrators. Pixels joined forces with award-winning illusionist Sean Alexander and Hollywood special effects artist Rob Ostir to bring illusions to life on HoBs PiT, a £500,000 ride at the Pleasurewood Hills amusement park in Lowestoft, England. The ride, set in an abandoned mine in absolute darkness, uses digital signage to create a series of chilling special effects. Pixels uses twelve BrightSign solid-state digital signage players to rattle doors, open and close hatches and even raise and lower a corpse in sync with HD video playback.

Sean Alexander’s script incorporates a ride element and a walk-through section. Video playback, holographic projection and physical effects need to be totally in synch. Each must happen at exactly the right moment, otherwise the impact is lost. Norman Garland and his team at Pixels did an outstanding job using the players and free BrightAuthor software to achieve this, avoiding the need for expensive control systems. Using BrightAuthor, they programmed the players to replay HD video in response to triggers from sensors in the ride, and to control pneumatic valves and rams, lighting and motors for the special effects. Control was achieved through the GPIO port on the players.

To continue the theme of ‘spooky signage,’ Pale Night Productions is a Missouri-based company that sells special effects to professionally created, commercial haunted houses. Pale Night Productions is recognized globally, and a big part of that recognition stems from its extensive portfolio of video effects. These video effects are complete packages, including the monitor, sound module, control hardware and our digital signage players. In addition, these packages include pneumatic connections and control valves that integrate with the package to spray water at particular times to simulate blood splatter. You can imagine how impactful it would be to observe a chaotic zombie chase scene on the display that culminates with the zombies being shot, while being showered with simulated blood at the exact moment the zombies explode!

It’s a bit gruesome to describe an amusement park ride with levitating corpses and a haunted house complete with zombie shoot-out, but these are graphic, compelling examples of how digital signage is reaching beyond the screen to deliver a very immersive viewer experience. And when you consider how effectively this multi-dimensional digital signage is being used to provoke emotional reactions in those nearby, just imagine what’s possible when these techniques are similarly applied in other settings. My prediction is that we’ll begin to see more of this multi-dimensional, sensory digital signage deployed in retail and other business settings, creating new and creative ways to connect with customers.


Posted by: Admin AT 09:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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