Tag Archives: Conferences

DSE Keynote – DOOH Disrupted: Paths to a Connected Future

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

Keynote speaker – Shelly Palmer (Live Digital w/ Shelly Palmer and Shelly Palmer Digital Living Sirius/XM Radio Show)

Excellent talk. Read through for some real gems!!

It’s interesting because we’re here to talk about DOOH at a time when everything is digital.

Digital is not new.

Show of hands from the audience – how many people are NOT carrying a smartphone? Literally 2 people. Wow.

Everyone of us is walking around with a computer in their pocket. The world has changed. Digital is a part of our lives. It’s not new.

The ability for people to connect with each other and amplify their voice, at scale – that is new. Speed and scale. It’s worldwide.

Stop it with the behaviors have changed and media consumption has changed – we know this?! (Does this industry really?)

Watson (yes, the computer) – natural language processing.

Pure research + applied science + showmanship (practical ways to use digital tools to make people’s lives better?) = the business we’re in.

What is a sign in 2011? Could be a TV, could be sign, could be anything we want it to be. (This is what I’ve been talking about – places & things around us have the ability to be turned on.) But what we have right now is analysis paralysis – everyone’s got their own interpretation and it’s different from everyone else’s and it’s is causing schizophrenia.

How do we fix it?

All technology is meaningless unless it changes the way we behave.

18 mos. ago, there was a proportional screen rule that was absolute – small screen – short content, bigger screen – longer content. Now, anyone will watch anything on the best available screen.

Now, people are taking their TVs with them. That’s new.

iPad is the 1st of a zillion tablets to come out. Motorola Xoom is an iPad killer. 2 computer chips instead of 1. Full screen HD. 2 cameras. All Googled up with Honeycomb. Will it actually kill the iPad? No, but for a certain group of people, it will become THE tablet of choice.

Difference between 3G & 4G – we’re at a tipping point that is unprecedented since 1847. We’re about to go from 3G to 4G. It is literally the difference between the pony express and the telegraph. Huge sociologic change. It took 5 weeks for someone to get a message. Now it takes less than 5 seconds. Huge. 3G takes minutes, 4G takes seconds. Are you guys ready for that?

We’re still trying to figure out where to put the signs. How to network the signs. Blah, blah, blah.

People are picking up their signs and walking around with them.

Traditional DOOH is a lot like old school TV.

Something he’s working on right now – LogoVision – has every logo in the history of the world in their database. Consumers take a picture of the logo, it delivers content. Can take a picture of any logo on any sign – TV, digital sign, poster, etc., get content instantly. Think about how “instant” 4G will be.

This time next year, you won’t be able to buy a 3G device. All will have 4G, means getting content/data will be 6-8X faster than they are now.

People now like texting. Consider email a formal letter. What’s better than texting? Taking a photo/pressing 1 button. The computer does the work for you. What’s that? Oh, Watson. You see where this is going?

Speed, scale, convenience – technology is meaningless unless it changes the way we behave. How do we behave? In the way that is most convenient.

“The #1 show at 10PM on Friday night is TiVo.” – Jeff Zucker.

People make choices, we’re empowered now with technology.

We’re living in a connected world and very quickly we’ll be able to argue – there are 2 types of people and 2 types of tech – connected or not connected.

Trust circles – small groups around things from people you emphatically trust. The new DMA’s. (Very interesting.)

How does a sign help you? How does a network of signs tied together that disseminate valuable information help you? That’s our challenge. We’re an old medium today. People are taking their signs with them.

Another show of hands – how many of you guys have Google Alerts set up for the information you want on a daily basis? Only 10% of people, if that, raised their hands. This does not surprise me. Now, he’s going off on the audience – you’re in “digital” signage/Out-of-Home and you’re not even using the tools for yourself. How do you not do this? It’s unacceptable that you’re at the Digital Signage Expo and you’re not digital.

Who do you sell to? Helping the industry move forward requires 2 components – 1) how to present this industry to buyers?

Retail has forever changed. Borders couldn’t compete digitally. They didn’t keep up. They, like so many people, believed things will work themselves out.

Do not fall prey to the idea that anything is going to go backwards. What’s the penalty for being late? The penalty for being late is business death.

How do you filter the paradigm shifts from the parlor tricks? You personally apply the filter based on your experiences to the question – is this going to change people’s behaviors.

Digital signage industry – hire armies of developers to work on platforms because that is where you’re going to win.

Nut – and I quote, “He who is closet to the point of sale wins. That’s always going to be true.” Now people are bringing their computers to the point of sale. And they’re connected – to each other & brands & information through technology. And the best, “Not about hyperlocal, it’s about hyperpersonal.” This takes some sort of engagement and interaction. This is what it’s all about.

Quote of the session – Now, the only people who like change are babies in wet diapers.

Is Digital Signage Good for Just Utility? Or Experience, Too?

11th Screen | Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

I had a great dinner last night with 2 of the Preset Guys – 2 EXTREMELY smart and experience digital signage veterans who have done loads of work for high-profile companies/clients – Pat Hellberg and Dave Haynes. We talked a lot about the “DOOH” industry (and how to pronounce it?!) and “digital” signage and engagement and content and storytelling. And I’m putting as many things as I can in “quotes” just for Pat – know he likes that stuff. Anyway, it was a great discussion and it produced some interesting questions. I’m going to cover a few of them in the next couple of days.

First one up – this concept of “utility” and “experience.” Technology is beautiful because, along with many other things, it can effectively serve as a utility or create an experience. Most of the time, the same technology can accomplish both, there just might be different ways it manifests itself in doing so. Let’s take mobile for instance – if you want to simply opt someone into a communication stream/database, you can accomplish that through SMS (something very utilitarian) or through a QR Code (something more experiential).

As far as digital signage goes, there’s a large part of me that believes its primary benefit is one of utility. The platforms are dynamic and deep – they can hold a lot of content and ads. The signs are dynamic, potentially constantly in motion and just as potentially attention-getting. Place them at point of purchase, advertise whatever merchandise/deals you want, and you can change them on a daily basis. In that scenario, digital signage makes a lot of sense to serve a specific utility. Same can be said in quick-serve restaurants (QSR’s). Need to change the menu, or price, or nutritional value? Bang on the keyboard for a second and viola, the display is updated and you don’t have to reprint whatever it was you were using 5 years ago. Another great use for digital signage.

But what I want to know is where is the experience? Over the last year, I’ve heard software makers and hardware makers and IT guys and AV guys and “content” makers talk about networks. Networks, schmetworks. It drives me crazy that no one seems to be thinking about experiences. One-way, push messaging – regardless of how deep, dynamic and/or flashy it is – does not an experience make.

More and more, consumers want to have an experience with a brand. Typically, they like to dictate what that experience is, but they want an experience nonetheless. Not only do they WANT experiences, they’re starting to expect them. And when consumers expectations change, companies/brands and even entire industries, have to adapt to that change. Otherwise, they’re going to become irrelevant. And at the end of the day, how many brands want to become irrelevant? 0.

So, I really think the industry and all of the players within it are faced with a simple question – do you want to serve a utility? Or create an experience? If the answer is the latter, consumers don’t care about hardware and software and AV and IT and networks. They just want a great experience.

Can we make it so?

Friday’s 4-1-1, Looking Ahead to DSE Style

DSE Show Floor

The Digital Signage Expo (DSE) holds a special place in my heart. It’s the first conference I covered as “press,” it’s the first time I was really in the know, behind the scenes, the first time I met all of my industry friends face-to-face – in a lot of ways, it was THE thing that really put my blog on the radar for many in the industry. I will be eternally grateful to Geri Wolff (responsible for organizing the entire thing) for taking a chance on someone she’d never heard of and letting me in (as press).

So, Monday, I’m off again for this year’s DSE. I’ve got a different schedule this year because I’m taking part in a few pre-conference activities and by the time it’s over, I will end up missing the last day of sessions. But this is a busy time of year back at work (preparing for SXSW) so I’ve got to make a couple of sacrifices. Today’s Friday 4-1-1 is dedicated to some of the things I’m looking forward to this year.

1. There’s nothing more important than relationships and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really great people in this industry. Most of them will be here this week and I’m looking forward to seeing them again. I talk to many of them on a daily basis so I’m sure we’ll pick up as if no time has passed since we actually saw each other. There’s no substitute for face-to-face time and I’m going to take advantage of it.

2. The Preset Group Mixer – I wasn’t able to attend last year, although the guys at Preset were kind enough to invite me last minute. I was buried in SXSW to-dos. Not this year. I’ll be there and I’m really looking forward to it. I suspect I’ll see alot of people that I already know, but many more who I don’t. The guys at Preset are top notch, so I suspect this mixer will be the same.

3. Christie MicroTiles’/Arsenal Media’s BuzzWall – 7′ tall, made up of 41 tiles, multi-touch, multi-user, recently installed for the Miami Dolphins. Sounds a lot like the Hard Rock Cafe’s Rock Wall, just different hardware (which I suspect is what makes this pretty cool). Here in Dallas, Jerry doesn’t even have one of these in his place. I’ve got to see it in action.


4. Wednesday morning’s morning sessions – DSE/DSF has really done a good job this year of focusing the educational sessions. There are various tracks, and they’re actually good and seem to be geared to more than 101-type sessions. There’s a content track (fantastic move!), an interactive technology track, a business track, and 6 others. Wednesday morning, I’ve got to decide between the Content session, the Marketing/Advertising session, and the Interactive session. All look to be awesome. At this point, the Advertising/Marketing session is the favorite.

“Uh-huh” – Like I said, Geri Wolff, has been extremely kind to me and I can’t thank her enough. She’s kept in touch with me over the year and has really treated me well. I’m looking forward to thanking her face-to-face.

“Duh” – I’m teeing it up for a little golf outing with Dave Haynes, Bill Trainor, and Andy Bruce. I haven’t played in a couple of years. I have no idea how it’s going to be. If nothing else, it will no doubt, be fun. Hope I represent, though.

If you’re going to DSE and you’d like to get together, drop me a line and let me know. As always, thanks for reading!

Friday’s 4-1-1, Introspection Style

I’m now on my way back home after an intense couple of days at CETW.  Conferences are hard, especially if you have day jobs, which almost everyone does.  Unfortunately, time doesn’t stand still when you’re in the four walls of that convention center.  The machine keeps going.

The conference was good.  These guys put on a quality show and they’ve been good to me (as has the DSE!).  I met more real smart people this time who have been in the industry for a long time – Lyle Bunn, Bradley Walker, David Drain, Ken Goldberg (finally), Dusty Lutz and Bob Martin (the latter were both on my session panel) to name a few.  These guys are true industry leaders and they have a wealth of experience and knowledge from which to learn.  Saw my pal, Dave H. from Preset, couldn’t ever hook up with my pal, David W. from Preset, and missed my pal, Paul from Preset.  Pat – where are you, man?  From a relationship standpoint, it was another fantastic experience.  There’s nothing like face-to-face interaction, despite the power of Twitter.

I felt like I struck a nice balance between attending sessions and spending time with the exhibitors on the showroom floor.  For the first time, I feel like I was able to be productive with the exhibitors, thanks to my OOH model.  For someone like me, who gets overwhelmed with so many players and so many different components (to bring a network to life), simple models like this help me break information down to the point I can actually do something with it.  Getting back to what I said last week about providing value, it was important for me to do more with my posts from this conference than I’ve previously done.  So, the model enabled me to get down to the real nut of what those exhibitors offer and start highlighting some of them in a new series called “Supplier Spotlight.”  Also, the way I’ve recapped the sessions has always felt a little off for me.  More than anything, it’s been an exercise in recording and posting.  But now I’ve added a short section at the end of each recap that synthesizes a couple of key points that I took away from the session.  I’ve already started receiving some good feedback on that addition, which means we’re on the right track.

But then, there was my panel, “Strategy First:  Incorporating Digital/Interactive OOH into Your Campaign Strategy.”  In my opinion, it was an #epicfail.  So, today’s 4-1-1 is all about reflecting on the session, and recognizing what I believe to be the downfalls, and on the flipside, the opportunities that we can take away from it.

1.  What I wanted to talk about and what this audience wanted to hear were 2 totally different things – there are many digital signage network operators (meaning, those who run an entire network of screens) at this show who are looking for tips, advice, guidance, and a sound “strategy” (I feel like this is becoming a lame word now) on how to fill their screens with good content and advertisements (the two are married.)  They don’t want to hear my talking about how everything’s a screen.  They want to hear about their screen and how to make it better so they can make money.  Thank goodness I had Bob Martin on the panel from RMG because he provided great information to this audience.  Everyone else on the panel, and our thoughts, muddied the water more than anything.

2.  The panel’s diversity was a barrier and did not work well for this discussion – as I said, Bob provided the most relevant POV for this particular audience.  I don’t know that I would recommend having so many panelists (total of 4) for any session because time flies and we all have a lot to say.  So, cutting the actual size of the panel down would have helped, but more than anything, if we were to bring different POVs from different agencies again, I think the session needs to be framed as something that is “new” and “experiential” and not geared to digital signage networks.  It’s more about the “cool” things you can do outside of the home.  If that were that were the expectation of our session, I feel like we would have delivered much more value.

3.  I have a clearly different view of OOH/DOOH/IOOH than the majority of the “industry” – I am not a digital signage guy.  Networks and operators and IT make my head want to explode. I’m an experience guy.  I’m focused on engaging consumers, literally outside of the home, through technology in a way that drives connections and meaningful experiences with the brand.  I don’t believe you need actual “screens” to do this because technology has enabled everything around us to become a screen.  I can do a better job of separating the two – DOOH, as in “digital signage” and “networks” and IOOH, as in “experiences away from those specific ‘screens.’”  I tend to mix the two here and it’s an important distinction to make.

4.  DOOH as in “digital signage” and “networks” is a powerful advertising and communications channel – these physical screens can be installed at critical locations along the consumer’s purchase journey.  Coupled with the right content, these networks truly do touch people where they are, when they need it.  On location alone, they can most efficiently target consumers like no other channel, even mobile.  Right now, mobile requires a level of “active” participation to truly target in the right place and the right time.  Just by being there, DOOH/digital signage can passively target efficiently and effectively (that’s a fun sentence!)

“Uh-huh” – I believe in the power of these channels, both “DOOH/digital signage” and the new “OOH.”  I believe both will succeed.  Digital signage networks can make a brand’s advertisements work less for a larger return.  But everything around us will be interactive sooner or later, so we have to prepare for that, too.  It’s important to recognize that the OOH canvas is vast, virtually untapped, and before we know it, will be completely interactive.  We won’t need actual screens to form an OOH network.  Buildings and sidewalks and tables will be a network.  More importantly, as is the case now, consumers will be a network.  These two elements will have a profound impact on the DOOH industry.  I think physical screens can still be an important part of the ecosystem, they just have to become smarter.  They need to work together with all of the other touch points, including consumers with each other, to be that much more meaningful.  This is daunting.  The people who figure this out first will win, and I think we’re still a few years away from crowning the winner.

“Duh” – the right type of agencies and people within those agencies, namely account and media planners, need to be at this conference, talking to these smart, super-experienced people.  If they can’t come to the physical conference right now, they should have access to the content.  This is an easy challenge to solve with today’s technology.  In my opinion, it will be a more difficult proposition to actually get the word out to these particular agency members than it will be to work through the logistics of distributing the content.  Perhaps an invite-only session/roundtable geared specifically for them?  If we crack that nut, I believe opportunities will flow.

Anyway, I have to thank Lawrence and team, again, for their hospitality and kindness.  It’s always great to be around all of these people.  For those of you who weren’t able to be here, I hope these posts helped.  Love to hear your thoughts on any of these, as you have them.  Have a great weekend!

Supplier Spotlight: Simbioz

I’m partial to touch screen kiosks, having spent a good portion of my previous life developing solutions for them.  I’m also partial to clean hands.  I’ve got this thing where I try to notice what I’m touching and if/how other people touch it, too.  Bathroom doors are a perfect example.  I don’t touch bathroom doors – I use a paper towel to protect me from the germs.  This is one thing I don’t like about touch screen kiosks.  I’ve ridden in 4-5 cabs a day while I’ve been here and I can see the filth on all of the touch screen monitors.  I use my knuckles, not my fingers, then I promptly wash my hands (and knuckles.)

So, what do I see today?  A touch LESS kiosk, of course.  Brought to you by Simbioz, another EQUIPMENT provider (both hardware and software).

Awesome, right?  The content (which they do not produce – they take existing content from the brand) looks great in their interface, and it’s a flashy one at that.  In the end, it’s just a template that they can place content in, but it’s a well thought-out and a very nice-looking template.

The actual kiosk itself has two cameras mounted in the top corners that detect the user’s movement and controls the screen accordingly.  My inclination was to touch the glass every time, but once I got the feel of how close I needed to be, I controlled it by simply touching the air in front of it.  No nasty film.  No necessary washing hands.  None of that.  Swipe away and be engaged.  I really like this one.

Supplier Spotlight: Provision 3D Media

Want to add a 3-D hologram to the top of your kiosk?  If so, I’ve got the people to hook you up – Provision 3D Media.  They’re EQUIPMENT providers, specifically hardware providers.  Essentially, they can take their box that produces this 3D image and plop it right on the top of any kiosk.  ATMs?  Slot machines?  Yup and yup.

This is one of those super-cool pieces of technology that you see at shows like this, but I wonder how beneficial it will be for a brand.  It’s an awareness vehicle.  Super-cool awareness vehicle, but even though they can make the hologram interactive (apparently, they can program it with MS Kinect so it’s controlled by the user’s gestures), it can’t do much more than create awareness.

I wonder if the technology trumps the brand in the consumer’s mind, at least right now??  When I was playing around with the watch, I could care less about what type of watch it was (the brand behind it), I just wanted to play with the fun, little 3D hologram.  Worth a look for wow factor, for sure.

Supplier Spotlight: Saddle Ranch Productions (Pt. 2)

I had a chance to spend some time on the showroom floor this afternoon and unlike the other conferences (at the beginning of the year), I spent ample amount of time trying to cut to the core of those exhibitors (and their specific offerings) that caught my eye.  I had to go back to Saddle Ranch Productions – the CONTENT providers – after hearing their president, Kim, talk in one of the sessions yesterday.

They’re very clear about their differentiator – they “take a careful approach to creating content for digital signage networks.”  They have this proprietary process behind creating content called, “Targeted Content Mapping.”  It’s four steps that they go through in order to create the most effective content for a particular venue (set of venues).  They don’t just create content to create content.  They think about it.  And then they do it.

They’re a production company and if you’ve ever been introduced to any sort of filmmaking, you can appreciate the type of operation (and skillset) it takes to produce one piece of content, much less many pieces of content.  And the thing about these guys is that they are creating specifically for a digital signage network.  Not for TV, not for a website – specifically for a DS network, which is custom in and of itself.  They’re even about to launch “Saddle Stock,” which will be a stock video library for DS networks.  Even though you can use sites like iStockphoto and RevoStock to purchase stock video, they’re not necessarily geared to the specifics of DS networks.  Given the fact that Saddle Stock provides DS network-specific content, I suspect they’ll be providing a much-needed, quite convenient service.  Smart.

CETW Keynote #2 – How Agencies Think About Customer Engagement

David Sommer, Managing Partner, WPP’s GroupM Retail, CPG & Shopper Media – “Understand How Agencies Think About Their Brands’ Customer Engagement Technology Strategies”

1 out of every 3 ads are bought by WPP

Big brand guy

Execution is key – what can you actually execute, not just dream up

Physical environments can be media.  Have the opportunity to engage consumers in that environment via media.

Can touch people in their path to purchase:  In-Home, In-Life, In-Store

Hot Topics for the Day

  • Big Agencies want in on the action
  • How we decide where to invest – must target, must optimize, must be able to measure results
  • Trends:  paid, owned, and shared
  • Right place, right time

Awareness = passive (Amen, brother)

Their funnel:  Pre-Shop, Shopping, Purchasing, Loyalty

Lots of touchpoints, not just in the store

3 HOT areas:  In-store, Proximity (around the store), Mobile (the remote control of our lives) – they put a lot of emphasis on mobile – in research, categorizations, etc..

“Mobile is the most over-hyped medium in the short term and the most under-hyped in the long term.”  -Sir Martin Sorrell

4 big buckets of Measurement:

  • Compliance (Who is shopping?)
  • Media Value (Were they interested?  Could they see it?)
  • Brand Metrics (Did it change perception?)
  • Sales Lift (Was it effective?  Was it purchased?)

Media thoughts (P, O, S) – they all feed each other

Consumers want deals, social interaction and ratings (see what others think)

In mobile, what are they using/searching for – mobile search, mobile sites, GPS, deals

In store, what are they looking for – self-checkout, payment from cell, on pack promotions

Trends to engage the consumer:

  • Addressable (customizable)
  • Portable
  • Searchable
  • Social
  • Interactive
  • Transactional
  • Ubiquitous (it’s everywhere)

DS is getting better all the time – you see these signs/kiosks more and more, when you’re out and about


Still agencies driving brands to get in store or is it the brands driving agencies to get in the store?  It’s a mix – they’re obviously in this business, driving the value for brands to be in store.  About 30% of their leads, though, come from inquiries from brands.

What’s your single best research tool?  TNS is part of WPP, TNS Sorenson has particular experience in this area.  Nielsen has a play.  IRI has a play.

What do you consider scale?  Not necessarily about how many stores you’re in….another approach is how many people do you touch?

Nut – it’s good to hear someone on the agency side (even if it is a media agency) acknowledge that DOOH is prevalent.  It might be stating the obvious, but just stop for a second and look around the next time you’re in a doctor’s waiting room, or grocery store, or office building – chances are, they’ve got a network playing some sort of content and advertisements.  Also great to hear someone recognize that the physical spaces around us are media.  The only clarification I’d make is that the physical spaces around us have unlimited opportunities to be “screens.”  They’re hot on mobile.  So is everyone else.

Word of the session – addressable.

Supplier Spotlight: Saddle Ranch Productions (Pt. 1)

I attended this short session this afternoon, but these guys are also an exhibitor so I’ll follow-up with a Part 2 tomorrow that focuses more on them, not this particular case study (Kid Care TV).

Kimberly Sarubbi, President, Saddle Ranch Productions – “The Proven Recipe for Content Success”

Kid Care TV – one of the networks that Saddle Ranch produces CONTENT for.  In pediatric waiting rooms.

Kid Care TV stats:

  • 2,500 screens in pediatric rooms
  • Target 60,000 members of AAP
  • Content approved by an advisory board of pediatric HCP experts
  • Digitally deliver 3-5 segments to heighten moms’ awareness of pediatric issues
  • Advertiser-supported network

Avg. waiting time in pediatric offices – 26.5 minutes

65% of parents go shopping immediately after the dr. visit

Engaging content so that there is recall so the advertisers make money.

“Targeted Content Mapping” – measure 4 things

  • Venue profile
  • Audience profile
  • Dwell time
  • Message

Test, adjust, optimize – duh.  But she gave an example:

Originally started w/ “evesdropper” format – they staged all of the patient/doctor interaction.  They found that it was not cost effective.  They switched to a “talking head” format and now they have better recall rates.  Mainly produce:

  • 2-3 minutes of presenter and b-roll
  • Interspersed with ads and PSA’s
  • DVDs produced for docs to give to patients to take home

All from Arbitron study for KCTV

  • 82% of visitors notice KCTV and find it to be a credible source
  • 65% of viewers recalled at least one ad
  • 67% felt content helped to created a better doc-patent relationship

Key takeaways:

  • Content creates profits
  • Plan smartly – define goals, success metrics, and budget to make it happen
  • Invest in an experienced and trusted content partner
  • Test/adjust/optimize
  • Invest in 3rd party performance testing & reporting


How do you know when the content is stale?  “The science goes bad quickly, so we’re constantly creating new content.”

Employee fatigue?  “We do have sub-titles so you can turn it off.  :)”

Do you use content to drive deeper into the brand?  “We’re going to be integrating mobile technology and include coupons in the near future.”

Someone also asked about how advertisers buy media for this network and she said, “we’re not in the media business.  We’re responsible for the content.”  Thank you.  Seriously.  A company who focuses on their 1 thing and seemingly does it really well.  I want to go talk to them tomorrow in their booth and see what they’re really all about.  But by the looks of it, they’re a totally legitimate video/film production house.  Good talk.  She didn’t give me a fun word of the session.  Then again, I couldn’t stay until the end because I had to cut my day short due to a solid block of conference calls.  More tomorrow!

Supplier Spotlight: Vislogix

One of the reasons I created my OOH model was to help me get down to what companies truly offer in this space.  Every time I go to one of these tradeshows and ask the exhibitors what they do, most every time, I hear the response, “we do everything, soup to nuts.”  Ugh.  If everyone on the showroom floor does everything, then how do I know who’s offering is better than the next?

So, my model helps me ask pointed questions to really determine what their specialty is, at the very least.  I put it to the test this morning.  First company up – Vislogix.  Response when I asked them what business they’re in?  “We’re the only recognized full-service firm in the country.”  Of course.  After more questions, I got to the nut of what they really provide:  EQUIPMENT.  Specifically, hardware that enables touch and gesture-based interactions on any surface.  They look to focus on storefront windows, but can virtually make any surface interactive.

The solutions they were showing were top notch in the cool category.

Vislogix, touch display glass

You can see, even in this bad photo, that the content is pretty clear on the glass.  These guys aren’t in the projector business.  They’re in the business of the interactive film that the projector projects on.  And the film is awesome.  They have standard sizes that you can choose from and if you need a custom size, they’ll make it for you (technically, they can create any size film, but it’s only as good as the size of the projection.)  Technically, it’s a capacitive touch screen so the user doesn’t need to “touch” it to control it – even still, I found it quite responsive.

They had another solution, much more gesture-based, that picked up movements via a camera placed above the user.  When in the field of the camera’s view, the user can control what happens on the screen just by waving a hand.

Vislogix gesture screen

The interesting thing about this particular solution is that, since it’s controlled by a camera, it can enable any surface – static, window, even LCD – to be interactive.  Where it gets a little muddy for these guys is in the software.  Obviously, software is needed to run these solutions and these guys aren’t really hard-core software makers.  It seems like they have a number of solid software partners so essentially they can also provide any software needed for these installations.

The nut here – if you want to do a touch or gesture-based experience on a store window or other large piece of glass, call these guys first.  If you want to throw a crazy idea at someone (a 1-off-type project) and see how immersive they can make it, these guys would be good to call.  Keep an eye out for them and what they do in the next 6 months.  They’ve got some great work under their belt and judging by some of their partners (they seemed impressive to me?!?!), they’ll probably be around for awhile.  I hope they do well.