Pieces Here, There, and Everywhere

And then, reality set in.  More like, the Blackberry started exploding.  We are planning a HUGE program for one of our clients at South by Southwest, which is in 2 weeks, so needless to say, there is LOTS to be done. 

So, I missed out on part of the next phase of the tour, which was in the new City Center.  This place makes the Hard Rock look like small time.  The scale is simply amazing.  It’s an $8.5 billion “megaplex” full of shops, casinos, hotels, condos, restaurants, a standalone convention center, and even comes with its very own Fire Station.  Ridonkulous.

Even more, and this is what I’m talking about “scale,” – these guys operate over 300 digital screens in this complex, but in their network, beyond the City Center, there are over 1,000 screens that they operate – all via 1 control system.  All different sizes.  Some digital.  Some interactive.  Some for slots.  It’s crazy.

I smiled with satisfaction, extending kudos to my previous co-workers, when the guys at Aria Resort & Casino (our primary stopping point) talked about the hardware they use for each one of the screens.  Mac minis.  Which is what we used for our interactive solutions.  They’re great devices – powerful, flexible, with a small footprint.

I was really impressed with their team.  They only have ~11 on staff that run this entire operation.  They custom build applications.  They implement and run one of the most recognizable digital signage networks in the world on the Las Vegas strip.  They think about measurement (they track what people are interacting with and for how long) and they’re even thinking about future iterations. 

I missed the part of the tour where they take everyone around to all of these different screens and let them play with them.  You know, the fun part.  Something that I could have done all afternoon.  But actually, I don’t know if I could have, because honestly, it was all so overwhelming, coming off of the experience at Hard Rock, into Digital/Interactive Signage World.  I had a hard time digesting everything.

I played with one of their interactive directories, which I found to be a bit confusing:

And they had these digital placards outside of their conference rooms, but they were not interactive:

Digital menu boards.  Digital advertisement screens.  Digital marquees.  Digital slot machines.  Interactive wayfinders.  Interactive directories.  If you want it, they’ve got it – at least digitally.  And that begs the question to me, is it needed?  Are digital menu boards needed?  My friends, Phillip and Seth, both had strong opinions that they are not.  I think I agree with them.  But then I think, is it OK to do digital just to do digital?  Once the infrastructure is set up, there are many benefits, regardless of placement, purpose, or interactivity.  So, I can see value in it.  Especially when everything else is digital.  If their only digital solution was a digital menu board, I would think differently.  But when you have your whole City wired, of course, you’re going to have digital menu boards. 

This, I believe, is a great look into our future.  A real future where technology is incorporated in everything all around us.  I didn’t own one thing that I interacted with today.  But the interesting thing was, while I didn’t need to own the device from which the experience originated, I wanted (and needed) to use my own device (mobile, Flip) to share the experience. 

And I think that is a very important piece to this puzzle.

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