Tag Archives: Digital Out of Home

Friday’s 4-1-1, Fast Company Style

Today marks a milestone of accomplishment here on this blog – for the first time ever, I have blogged every day this week! I hope everyone’s enjoyed the posts. I have my own opinions on blogging and everything behind it and at the end of the day, I’m just another voice in the sea of opinions that now have access to be heard. I don’t really like to write here unless I feel like my perspective is beneficial (and no, I don’t feel like it’s beneficial on everything, and I’m sure I’ve missed the mark here, on a number of occasions) – this week, I saw many different things that I really wanted to write about and share. So, today, I hope to close the week out strong, at least semi-strong.

I’m a huge fan of Fast Company and I’m a little sour to admit that I still don’t have an iPad. I’m kicking it old school with the print magazine – hence, today’s 4-1-1 is inspired by this month’s edition of Fast Company:

1. Ford continues to use enabling technology – still being a print magazine guy, I see MS Tags on most every one of Ford’s print ads, just like this:

The site that it sends you back to is nothing impressive, but it is driving consumers deeper into the brand.  And I still maintain that as long as you’re using print, why not include tags like this?  It just makes all the sense in the world.  I love the fact that they’ve chosen MS Tags, the scanning code/technology that I believe is the easiest, device-agnostic, user-friendly to use.

2.  Why Environmental Activists Embrace Social Media – this article specifically talks about PR and social media and BP being caught with their pants down.  Obviously very interesting for me to read, being that I work for the largest PR company in the world.  Here’s what I say to any company about social media (in addition to the points made in this article that I agree with) – you need to create a baseline of a presence, regardless of the climate of the industry and what your competitors are doing.  In other words, start with something – a blog, for instance – that allows you to get your voice out there and establish a baseline of presence and credibility.  That way, god forbid something happens and you need to respond to crisis (just as BP did), you’re not forced to go 0-60 in a day.  Even now, there are many companies who don’t want to get involved with social media unless they’re “forced” to (ie – when they need to deal with a crisis).  It’s hard to react to something critical when you haven’t even defined your presence.  And it takes time.

3.  The Ultimate Guide to Rapper Names (Infographic) – I’m a visual person.  I love infographics.  As you can see (follow the link to see infographic), “Lil”, names centered around “Royalty” and “Criminals” are some of the most popular.  What a world we live in.

4.  Online Retailers’ $44 Billion Customer Experience Problem (Another Infographic) – pretty cool stuff shown here.  The point is (aside from poor design/workflow in online shopping experiences) – many people don’t like to bother with going in stores.  They’d rather do it online, in the convenience of their own surroundings.  I’d love to see something like this showing the impact on digital/interactive Out of Home that allows consumers to shop outside of their home, without going into the store.  We’ll get there.  Still, the digital shopping experience can’t be ignored.  (Images look better on the Fast Company site vs. here, so check it out there).

“Uh-huh” – “Heroes” Creator Tim Kring Looks to the Future – I found this article fascinating.  #1 – I like the term “transmedia” which as he puts it, is a “fancy word at this point for a simple concept:  telling stories across multiple platforms.”  What I always talk about!!  And #2 – what I like even more, he follows that up with, “It will be a short-lived word, because it’ll just become the norm – the trans will stop and it’ll just be media”.  Wow, this dude is dialed in and he gets it on a level that I believe few people do.  His ideas are no doubt cool.  And although I didn’t watch every episode of Heroes and follow the different stories across all of the channels, it was a groundbreaking way to extend and evolve a story across multiple platforms.  (Just as Lost did as well).  #3 – what really got me thinking is, in agencies, particularly new agencies of the future – the gold might be in finding storytellers of the filmmaking nature vs. “creatives” specializing in design or copywriting.  Hmm.

“Duh” – Technology Changes the Face of Politicking – I don’t know if this is a “duh,” really.  But I don’t know that I really get the level of the true impact that politicians think that geo-location services like Gowalla actually make.  I like Gowalla and have worked with them multiple times before, and I’m happy that they’re exploring a new arena, but I don’t know how this is going to be the next social media “game changer.”  Seems a little strong to me.  Would love to hear your thoughts, though, if you feel differently.

So, there you go.  Closing out the week (semi-) strong.  Happy weekend, everyone!

Celebrating (and Reflecting on) the 1st 6 Months

We’re at a good halfway point in the year, so I think it’s an opportune time to look back on the first 6 months of this blog and reflect.

All in all, I think I’ve done a fairly good job of finding a relevant and clear point of view.  It’s evolved from something narrow when I started to a bit broader now.  Most everything has been grounded in OOH – I just look at things with more experience and exposure as time has gone (and goes) on.  I’m also surrounded by different people in my everyday life who have impacted my thinking.  So, naturally, my point of view will evolve.  I just don’t want it to slow me down and/or turn into something crazy and incomprehensible.

I need to write more.  I’m averaging about 10 posts a month.  I feel like I need to double that so I’m providing a steady source of information.  I’ve asked a couple of my work colleagues, all of whom are very bright and have an opinion and aren’t shy to voice it, to provide guest posts on as regular basis as they can.  So, hopefully, you’ll not only get more content, but you’ll get more (and different) perspective.  If any of you want to provide a guest post, just let me know.  I’m open to it.

I haven’t found the secret sauce of doing conferences.  Blogging, tweeting, meeting people, and just plain going to the conference is a lot of work and certainly requires some juggling.  I’ve provided a decent mix of “live streaming” + my perspective.  I feel like I need to focus on getting in front of some of “names” there and interview them (or something.)  I can see how that would be valuable.  So, any of you names at these conferences, take this as my initial request :)

Other than that, I’m pretty happy with everything.  It’s still very new and the test is really going to be sustaining over time.  I’m committed to continue learning and doing and writing.  I expect big things and as a result, everyone reading this will experience that with me.

I’ve met some really great people through this avenue and that, more than anything, is the thing I’m most proud of.  This blog allows for these words to live on until some Y2K catastrophe, but I hope to keep those relationships for much longer.

I thought it would be a fun exercise to share some of my favorite posts.  I’ve enjoyed reading back over everything and for those who are new to this blog, it might help you navigate through some of my thinking up to now.  To those of you who are not new to this blog and my regular readers (again, thank you guys for regular readership!!), I’d love to hear some of your favorite posts.  So here they are, broken down by month (I picked a favorite per month):

January – The 11th Screen Puzzle – this was my 3rd post and really where I felt like I was able to really give everyone a sense of where I’m coming from and what to expect from this blog.

February – Keep It Simple Stupid – here, I showed a few examples of “simple” and effective Interactive Out of Home (IOOH) and an example of not so simple and not so effective.  To me, there are many different kinds of enabling technologies that make OOH solutions “interactive.”  These technologies are vital, not only for the industry, but for the future of marketing.  On one hand, these technologies allow us to merge the offline with the online and on another hand, they allow brands to make “complete” experiences.

March – Facebook + QR Codes + A Good Idea? – a little snarky here, but this was on the heels of doing a big QR code initiative for one of our clients and all I was reading was how Facebook was going to save QR codes.  That’s right, I said “save” because here in the US, I think they might have died before they were even born.  I personally think there’s value to QR codes, if used the right way + proper eduction, but how many of you have used QR codes and like it?  I just don’t know that we, as consumers of information through technology, need this particular technology.  Point is – is Facebook going to save them?  I don’t think so.

April – Why Business Cards and Video are the Same to Me – one of the un-IOOH-related posts, but something that allowed me to provide my perspective on more of what I do everyday.

May – Are You an Expert Learner? – I am of the mindset that if you aren’t learning, you’re wasting your time.  I don’t particularly care for know-it-alls, but I really like learn-it-alls.

June – Kinect (and others) – “DOOH” Killers? – the launch of Microsoft’s Kinect should really open eyes on what can be done sooner rather than later with human computer interaction.  It is particularly compelling for anyone in the “DOOH” (if you’ve read this blog, you know how I feel about that moniker) industry.

And here we are in July.  Many more to come.

Kinect (and others) – “DOOH” Killers?

How far away do you really think we are from mass adoption of interacting with the physical spaces around us?

Can this be the year of mobile and “interactive out-of-home?”

Has technology made “medium” really irrelevant?

My answers:  Closer than we actually think.  Yes and quite possibly (who would have thought?).  Technology has shifted each medium’s relevancy from consumption to experience, thus shifting the necessity of each.

For anyone who does not know what “out-of-home” (OOH), “digital out-of-home” (DOOH), or my own “interactive out-of-home” (IOOH) is, or does not believe its place or efficacy in today’s media environment, I believe you will learn very quickly otherwise.

I’m struck by examples of new technology that I have seen in a short 12 months, each adding another element of seamless human-to-computer interaction, directly affecting our experiences in the spaces around us:

Layar – through the use of your mobile phone, you can simply hold it up in any environment and instantly see, through this “augmented” reality, people around you, what they’re saying, what they’ve said, where they want to go, where you should go, etc…The open space around you instantly becomes interactable.

Audio Graffitti – here, you can walk up to any surface, speak or make a noise, and “tag” it for others to hear/experience from that point forward.  The surfaces around you instantly become audible.

Project Natal/Kinect – this gesture-based controlling system brought to us by Microsoft/Xbox was formally announced last night at the E3 conference (although the technology has been open to developers for at least a year.)  This is a game changer (pardon the pun, it’s just the right thing to say) – it allows users to control their experience in games without pressing a button of any sort.  Nothing.  All actions are controlled by the user’s gestures.  The displays around you instantly become responsive.

This Kinect news is really groundbreaking in my opinion.  Now, this technology is available for gamers, just a fraction of the general population, but in a year from now, how much bigger does that fraction get?  Who else is this kind of technology available for on a mass scale?

Technology is no longer the barrier.  Yes, it’s going to continue to get better and take different shapes, but as evidenced by the three examples above, it’s at the point where we no longer need to touch anything to interact with the spaces around us.  Just take a minute to think about that.

The other common thread among these three – they are all inherently social.

I’ve said before that “DOOH” as a medium is talked about wrong (“digital” just means display and without interaction, it is dull, tired, and un-sustainable) and I’m afraid that it is already becoming extinct, before it even gains traction.  We are rapidly moving beyond one-way, static displays, digital or not.

Take a look at the spaces around you when you’re on your way to work, or at the grocery store, or at the park.  Think you can interact with them?  If not, think again.

Social Media is alot like Filmmaking

In my previous life, I was an independent filmmaker.  And in the life before that, I wrote.  I still write, but I don’t make films anymore, mainly because of time.  Making films takes every ounce of brain power, much less time, you can give it, especially if you’re doing it all by yourself.  I miss that type of creating.  I miss being in something that deep for that long of time. 

I experience similar acts of creating with my job, and have ever since I can remember.  One of the great things about marketing and communications is the creating aspect.  We tell stories and solve problems and ultimately create relationships through pictures and words – the same tools filmmakers use to bring their stories to life.

I can’t help but liken social media to filmmaking.  Brands can go the independent route and spend a fraction of the cost to do it themselves.  Or they can go the studio route and hire “professionals” to monitor, manage, reach out to, engage, report, and analyze every aspect of their social media presence(s).  Studios have the infrastructure in place to churn out film after film.  Independents have themselves and a few of their friends to make a film at a time.  Both can produce really good films, but the amount of time that it takes doesn’t differ between the two. 

Quite often, I believe there’s a misperception that going the independent route enables organizations to get it done quicker, cheaper, and perhaps even just as effective (if not more) than hiring someone else to do it.  There is no formula, regardless of who does what, for success.  But, just like films, social media requires time.  It’s a serious commitment and someone’s got to be down deep for an extended period of time to even put themselves in a position to succeed.

Films have an advantage over social media because their stories end.  In social media, the stories grow and evolve and continue on indefinitely.  They turn into relationships.  And relationships, no matter what direction you go, can’t be skimped.

AR & QR – Here to Stay?

I just read a great re-cap post on “super brand’s” use of Augmented Reality from Chris Lake on Econsultancy and it got me thinking.  Specifically about AR & QR codes.  I call both technologies enabling technologies because they both enable the offline to be merged with the online.  And they both enable deeper experiences with the brand.  But QR codes – really any barcodes – just don’t seem to have the attraction, nor the experimentation to scale and use that AR has.  Why do you think this is?

Aside from the end-visual difference between the two, I think it’s simple – QR codes don’t do for a brand what AR does.  In other words – QR codes are just another way to access information.  AR is another way to experience a brand.  It’s quite a big difference.

At the end of the day, do we really need QR codes?  We can duplicate the same experience through advertising a URL or a short code.  Some would even argue that accessing a deeper level of information through a URL/short code is a better experience than through a QR code.  You don’t have  to understand what it is, how it works, download an app, take a picture.  Just simply type or text for the information you want.

AR, on the other hand, is an experience unto itself.  You can’t duplicate the experience any other way.  And because AR is what it is, it allows brands to either create an experience or utility that can show things in ways that no other medium can.  And that’s one of the fascinating things to me about AR – it transcends the mediums/screens we use to consume media.  It lives, literally, somewhere between your hands in the real world and your eyes on whatever screen you experience it on.  It can immerse someone in a brand far more effectively than any barcode can.  And depending on the actual solution, it can probably immerse someone more than a TV commercial can, or a website, or a banner ad, or a “static” video.

QR codes & AR both have hurdles for sure.  Start with the technology needed and the effort required to access either of them.  But because of what each provides, do you think one will outlive the other?  Or do you think that they’re both here to stay?

Great Mobile Engagement from Kioskcom

Yesterday, I wrote about Pongr, a new mobile technology that I experienced over the past week and found to be valuable and easy – two traits that should aim to be the bedrock of any campaign, certainly any mobile campaign.  Today, I’ll show you another example, but from the standpoint of a brand doing this, through the use of another valuable & easy technology.

Kioskcom/The Digital Signage Show – the brand in this case – did a commendable job of extending the experience through mobile last week during their conference, particularly with the use MS Tags and SMS.  I was delighted when I registered and picked up the guide/agenda/planner and saw a MS Tag at the bottom of the guide:

With instructions, no less.  Again, it’s such a small thing that is often overlooked, but I think you can never be too detailed on instructions with new technology.  They provided step-by-step instructions so anyone (literally, anyone) could follow:

Since I’ve done work with MS Tags, I already had the app installed on my phone, so I immediately took a picture of it.  I was directed to the Kioskcom home page where I could navigate wherever I wanted.  This wasn’t necessarily what I found to be the most valuable.  It was when I opened the guide and saw MS Tags on every page:

This was where the value to me came in.  First, this guide was the only reference material that I used throughout the conference and I actually liked it.  It fit in my bag, was easy to manage, included everything I needed about the show, to the succint detail that I needed, and then with the use of these tags, I was able to get the one-off details that I needed, when I needed them.  For instance, if I wanted to see one of the speakers’ bios, I could easily access it through the tag.  If I wanted to see details on exhibitors, I could easily access them through the tag.  I didn’t have to thumb through a big, hard-to-manage show guide that most often comes with any of these shows.

And if that weren’t enough, they set up a special short code to “opt-in” to receive regular show updates via SMS.  So, instead of relying on any of the kiosks or digital signs (ironically enough) or audio announcements, I was again able to get the information I wanted when I wanted it, through the channel I wanted it on.

This, really, is a perfect example of a brand utilizing many channels to engage with their audience in the most appropriate way – here, the intention was to extend utility.  Mission accomplished.

I think the true power of “out of home” as an advertising and communications platform is that it can bridge the gap in the story – the story that you can get from your TV, then all of the different stories you can find on your computer, and now even more on your mobile phone.  Marketers utilize these channels on a daily basis and they’re engrained in the ecosystem.  I think traditional out of home is in this mix, too, but I think we have such a unique opportunity in front of us with all of the new technologies at our disposal that the true value is extending the story through interactivity outside of the home.  And “out of home” to me is not necessarily billboards or kiosks or “digital” signs.  It can really be anything that we interact with outside of our homes – tables, floors, cars, magazines – whatever.  Pretty soon, everything will probably be considered a “sign,” so I like to think of the space as extremely broad.  (Tangent – in fact, “digital signage” is still immature right now and I don’t know that we’ll see it become mature.  I think we have a great chance of leapfrogging its maturity and welcoming something entirely different to the mix.  This would be everything around us.  For another post, I know….)

Valuable and easy.  Two traits personified again through the use of mobile technology, thanks to Kioskcom/The Digital Signage Show – or should I say the new, appropriately named brand, Customer Engagement Technology World.

Shout if you have other examples of valuable and easy through mobile.  I’d love to hear them.

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.

My DSE 2010 Adventure Begins

Up, up and away.  Here we go, Mike’s Digital Signage Expo 2010 Adventure has begun.  I’m going to chronicle A LOT of my adventure here, so be prepared.  It’s not just going to be news, or the latest greatest technology and trends.  It is going to be the entire experience from my point of view, every step along the way.  It all started bright and early this morning:

4:11 AM – my body clock woke me up.  I looked at the alarm clock.  I had 19 more minutes to sleep before the alarm started barking.

4:30 AM – the alarm clock started barking.  I turned it off, got up, dazily walked into the kitchen, pressed START on the coffee maker, and hit the shower.

4:49 AM – posted my first Tweet of the adventure.

4:52 AM – walked out of my house.

5:45 AM – arrived at Terminal D, DFW airport.

5:50 AM – checked in at the self-serve kiosk, which by the way is probably the most widely accepted interactive kiosk (what I call “Interactive Out of Home”, or “IOOH”) in the U.S. today, outside of the ATM.

6:13 AM – pulled money from what I suspect is the most widely accepted interactive kiosk (IOOH) in the U.S. today – the ATM.

6:32 AM – checked in “On Da Plane” via foursquare (become my friend – “mikecearley”)

6:45 AM – flight departed.

6:46 AM – found two interesting mobile advertisements that could easily have been made into IOOH examples in the American Way magazine.  Before I get into those advertisements, I think it’s important to make clear, again, my viewpoint on OOH + technology.  “Digital Out of Home” or “DOOH” is the term that is used to describe anything that falls into the OOH category and has technology associated with it.  To me, that is such a wide generalization and practically accurate, but not always technically accurate.  “Digital” Out of Home is any standard OOH solution that is made digital by display technology.  There is a finite list of display technologies – LCD, LED, plasma, projection.  If there are any other display technologies, please let me know, but it’s a small list.  This, to me, defines Digital Out of Home.  There is no interactivity associated with Digital Out of Home.  But since technology is the foundation of “Digital” Out of Home, interactivity is inherent.  Not always used (in fact, used much less than I think can be.  I hope to see advancements made on this front in the industry this week), but inherent.   Standard OOH initiatives can also be made interactive.  Case in point:

Example 1: 

Simple mobile app that the user can access at AA.com/mobile (which doesn’t work btw).  Put a short-code on this ad (which I originally thought it was) or a QR code/MS tag, and send them directly to the app from the magazine ad.

Example 2:

Print any attachment from your smartphone on one of these fancy HotSpot Printers.  There’s a simple process to go through, but when you do, voila, you’ve got printing on the go.  So, here, if I wanted to take a picture of this map, from this magazine, I could take a photo of it, email it, and print it, all from my phone.  

This magazine is a device, medium or platform that I do not own, so by my definition, it is an “Out of Home” solution (in this case, an object).  The brand is driving me deeper into an engagement through the use of enabling technology, in this case, my mobile phone.  Thus, we have an Interactive Out of Home solution, or IOOH, which is a term that I’m officially coining (at least the acronym).  It’s my truthiness.

8:46 AM – passed over the Grand Canyon.  Even from up here, it looks grand.  I’ve had the fortune of visiting the Grand Canyon.  It is something that I think everyone should do once in their life.  It is amazing.  I will bring my family here when the kids are old enough to appreciate it.

9:18 AM – landed in Las Vegas.  Off to the convention center to get my press passes.  Then, to the hotel to drop my bags.  Then, to the Hard Rock Café to depart on an awesome behind-the-scenes tour of Las Vegas’ $11 Billion City Center and Hard Rock Café.  

“The most exciting part of the tour is the behind-the-scenes look at advancements in digital signage control – everything controlled from single laptop computer equipped with state-of-the-art software to the remote control of over the 1,000+-screen installation at City Center and the other MGM properties up and down the Las Vegas strip.

Stops will feature Interactive reader boards, progressive Slots & Video animations that tie-in to progressive jackpot meters and table top displays; restaurant interactive Touch Screen Menus, interactive wayfinding through a 500,000-square-foot shopping center, video walls, and a huge multi-user, multi-touch interactive digital wall.”

Awesome, right?

More later……

A Number 10, 20, 28, 34 and a Super-Session to go

I’d like a number 10, 20, 28, 34 and a Super-Session to go, please.  To those of you going to the DSE next week, these numbers probably mean something to you.  To those who aren’t going, these are the sessions that I plan on attending.  Here’s the rundown:

Session #10 – How They Did It: Three Real-World Models for Successful Communication-Based Digital Signage Networks – Representatives from Reuters, a college (John Marshall Law School), and a medical facility (Mayo Clinic), discuss their DOOH networks and installations.  All of these seem like they’re fully integrated into their respective businesses and have clearly provided value back to their audiences.  I hope they’re able to cover their different expansive installations, the thought and buy-in that had to go into each of them and then ultimately, how they each look at success.  It will also be interesting to know what they think the future of DOOH looks like.

Session #20 – Creative Tactics for Integrating Digital Signage in Different Environments – This looks to be all about innovation, particularly in various approaches to a wide range of OOH environments and how to best incorporate digital/interactive signage into them.  A Dallas-comrade, Steve Gurley, from Symon Communications here in Plano, is on the panel.  We’re going to get together for coffee afterwards.  I’m looking forward to meeting him and learning more about his company.  They provide all sorts of DOOH solutions, including multiple interactive solutions.

Session #28 – Integrating Multi-Channel Strategies: A Roadmap for Digital Cross-Platform Success –  This is the session that interests me the most.  Primarily because it is one of the sessions that I think is closest to my specific interests – making the 5th Screen (digital signage) into the 11th Screen (through the use of all sorts of enabling technologies).  I think they’ll probably discuss the incorporation of mobile into digital signage more than anything else.  But I’m also interested in it because Stephen Randall of LocaModa – the man behind the company that brought us Jumbli and LBS-integration-into-digital signage – is on the panel.  The other dudes on the panel are no slouches, either. 

Session #34 – Trends in Interactive Gestural and Touch Screen Applications – Now, we’re talking.  “You will learn how organizations such as the Official NYC Information Center and MIT SENSEable City Lab are using advanced touch-sensing and gesture control technologies to bring a whole new dimension to interactive user experiences.”  It’s going to be sweet.  Enough said.

Super Session – Digital Out-of-Home’s Future – I can’t go to the premier Digital Out-of-Home conference without attending the session where industry leaders discuss its future.  It’s the one that has the biggest potential of let down, though.  These types of sessions can be so general, especially in an hour.  But I’ll be there. 

Then, throw in a couple of coffee meetings, a few on-floor workshops (including one by Keith Kelsen, visionary in digital signage), and a “mixer” here and there, and my calendar is pretty much full. 

Oh, and there’s work, too.  That doesn’t stop. 

It will all be busy, but really good. 

Is there anything you’re particulary interested in learning about digital signage or the industry?  Let me know and I’ll do my best to get it answered.

Hello World

I woke up dreaming about the blog yesterday.  Then, today, I woke up dreaming about Twitter.  Very anxious to get this thing up and running, this new “brand.”  Even when I’m not sleeping, my mind races.  Who am I talking to?  What am I trying to say?  Who do I want to form a relationship with?  What will my voice be?  What kind of information will be within my “boundaries”?  On and on and on.  You name it, I’m thinking about it.  In sleep and while awake.  Talk about anxiety.

So, now, I’m breathing.  And doing.  Wait no more.  The time has come.  I’m getting it out.  And this is it – the 11th Screen. 

The set-up:

I’ve spent the last four years of my life helping develop and implement a piece of software that is used in specific locations (like conferences and events) on technology that users don’t own (like touch screens).  When we initially started the process, we knew these two requirements, but didn’t fully understand their effects.  Nor did we understand the breadth of the opportunity that was staring us in the face.  Once we got into it, we based everything on these two insights:

  1. These events occur outside of the home (OOH) in an environment where the audience is a) captive and b) doesn’t have any form of personal technology (like computer) to interact with, other than their mobile phones.  (At the time, smart phones weren’t what they are today – both in technology and penetration.)
  2. These events require attendee registration and result in each attendee receiving a name badge, all of their registered, personal information packed away in a 2D or 3D barcode. 

As far as the software is concerned, the 2nd insight drove its differentiator.  The system can scan badges, store the information immediately and track every action back to an individual user.  On top of that, the system can handle an unlimited amount of brand content.  The differentiator is tying the data together with the content real-time.  So, everyone who interacted with this experience could receive a custom presentation based on the data that we knew about them or gathered from them real-time.  It’s really cool, but that’s not the point of this blog….

As far as this blog is concerned, insight #1 opened up a door for me that I have fallen in love with.  Again, at the time we were developing this, Digital Signage – or Digital “Out of Home” (DOOH) – was in its infancy (some would say that it still is, but it still gives you a point of reference.  I think it’s more grown up now, but still has a long way to go.) so we felt like we were discovering something revolutionary, certainly discovering unchartered territory. 

Well, we really weren’t. 

But we were on the front lines of creating innovative, interactive out of home (OOH) experiences.  Which brings me here now.

I have been to more conferences and events than I care to admit over the past four years, observing what others are (or in this case are not) doing with “digital signage.”  And while digital signage is starting to take off and get a little bit of attention, interacting with that signage is and has been virtually non-existent.  Of course, there are examples like this and that and the other thing, but talk about something in its infancy.  These can be considered more experiments than anything else, certainly not something that brands and people are comfortable with enough to accept.  Certainly not something that will take significant portions of budgets right now.  But we are getting there.  I truly believe it. 

Everyone is hoping big things for mobile this year.  I’m hoping big things for interactive out of home, which in large part, is tied directly to mobile.   I think industries will make great strides in connecting people with brands and each other through enabling technologies – like mobile, like touch screens – this year.  So, while I may be a little late (try YEARS) in starting a blog, I feel like this is an appropriate time to join in the discussion. 

I can’t wait any longer…

NOTE – I no longer work for the company that I helped develop the software for.  I have no affiliation with the software either, other than to wish it great success.