Tag Archives: NFC

SXSW and DSE – Very Similar

I find myself in Austin at SXSW right now vs. coming home from Las Vegas and DSE. I have missed my friends at DSE and there are, no doubt, several (if not many) cool things emerging in the field of digital signage/enabling technologies that have surfaced there. But as I walk around SXSW, I can’t help but think of all of the similarities between the two conferences.

1. People are always going to use technology for technology’s sake – one of the best quotes I’ve heard today is, “alot of gadgets (read, “technology”) don’t solve the right problems.” I don’t know whether this is because people don’t dig deep enough to find the real problem or if  they don’t care about problems, they just want to use technology. This is the problem with so much cool technology bombarding us – basically anyone can make anything with it.

2. There are very smart people out there who know how to purposefully use technology – yes, there are many, many crap emerging technology solutions out there, but there are also many good ones. One that I learned about today is: Food. You. Me. For anyone who likes to cook and has had thoughts about hosting a dinner party, but just didn’t feel confident that they could pull it off, this app is for you. It’s smart. These guys recognized a need to make novice cooks comfortable and knowledgable in cooking for more people than themselves, so they’ve created a utility-based app. (It’s in BETA right now, so if you’re interested, sign up to receive updates via email.) Although this particular example is about cooking, it’s an example of an insights-driven approach to solve a problem through technology. Two guys. They did this all themselves. It’s a really good idea and one that puts technology to use in the right way.

3. Passion abounds – some might call it over the top, but there is no doubting that professionals in each of these affected industries are incredibly passionate about what they do. You can’t teach passion. You can do what you can to harness it and point it in the right direction, but you can’t teach it. The recognition of such passion around me is inspiring.

4. Technology is no barrier at all – the more smartphones that get adopted by the “regular” consumer, the more comfortable they’ll get with unique interfaces and human-computer interaction. And, to me, this is the key. Because the technology is out there. Gesture, touch, NFC, RFID, QR – I have a feeling that consumers’ comfort with these sorts of technologies are going to be quicker than their comfort with moving from standard phones to smartphones. I was skeptical about NFC and how long it would take to get into market, at least for early adopters, and it’s not going to be long. I’m sure this is something that was discussed at DSE. I’ve had numerous discussions here.

I’ve only been here for 1.5 days. I’ve got 9 more to go. This is what has stuck out at me in my short time here. I’m sure that many more will become clear as the days pass. And as they do, you’ll hear them here. For now, good night and good luck.


I Stand Corrected

I am willing to admit when I am wrong. I have not been as in-tune with the DSE as I should be. Yesterday, I posted about an NFC bootcamp and how the ‘industry’ does not focus on the right things. I still maintain that there is not education enough around or willingness to learn/adapt social media into the content mix of digital out-of-home solutions (but that’s for another day and for time to only tell). However, the DSF (group behind the DSE) has gone to great lengths to educate those within and outside of the industry around important tenets of communication and connections, of which social media and emerging technologies like NFC fall within.

Geri Wolff, member of the DSF board of directors, rightfully posted a comment to yesterday’s blog pointing out all of the efforts (through sessions) they are making at DSE to educate attendees on the value of social media. While I think the session titles do not necessarily lend themselves to be visible “social media” sessions, it seems like it is clearly a focus. Her response has good session information in it:


Hey Mike, In case it was not previously clear, DSE 2012 will offer a variety of educational opportunities on how social media can help ignite DS messaging to better engage audiences. In case you did not see it, there is a half day session on Tuesday, 3/6 entitled “Mobile Models You Can Believe In” (See http://www.digitalsignageexpo.net/new-mobile-models-you-can-believe).

On Wednesday, 3/7, Session 11 “Mobile Campaign Integration with DOOH” also addresses social integration with DS, along with other options. Also on Wednesday, Session 6 “Creating a Multi-Screen Strategy: Connecting DS to What Matters,” also deals with mobile convergence and ways to leverage social media with DS.

As a matter of fact, mobile strategies and the whole issue of convergence is a common thread that runs through most of the seminar sessions.

See the entire DSE 2012 Conference Schedule at http://www.digitalsignageexpo.net/schedule

If anyone is attending the conference, I hope you stop by these sessions to see what they’re all about. I would love to hear about the social media education going on. The DSE is a good show, I am very grateful to Geri and the DSF and the show organizers for what they have done for me, personally, and the industry, and I think this industry has much potential to be realized. This blog has always intended to serve as a vehicle to bring forth a perspective that others who have a passion for digital/interactive out-of-home might not have. I will continue doing that, but hope to be more diligent in my research next time. :-)


The Wrong Bootcamp, if You Ask Me

Digital Signage Expo (DSE) is the largest digital signage show in the U.S. and in a couple of weeks, people are going to converge on Las Vegas to attend. I just read something touting an “NFC Bootcamp” – a half-day educational session centered around mobile’s (specifically, NFC’s) impact/integration into digital signage.

The title of the half-day session is ‘Near Field Communication: Changing the Digital Signage Value Proposition.

My first thought – when talking about changing the value proposition of digital signage, why are people so concerned about the latest, greatest technology and not concerned about how people actually communicate now through social media? Seems like that has a greater impact on the value proposition.

I’m one for exploring the latest emerging technology like NFC, particularly as it relates to maximizing the potential of digital signs/place/things around us. But to me, this is yet another example of the ‘industry’ focusing on what it wants to vs. the actual need. The thing that’s right in front of them.

I would dare say, without knowledge or experience in social media – by anyone involved in bringing digital/interactive out-of-home solutions to life – the solutions will always be unattainable at scale. Because they’ll be driven by technology whosits and whatsits and not the connections that the technology can enable.

A Perfect Use for Near Field Communication in the Real World

People want personal. Especially as it relates to the idea of interacting with the physical world around them on a “screen.” This is a key reason that mobile is so powerful in its potential. It can fairly easily turn any place or thing “on” to where it is interactable. And it is the personal screen of personal screens.

The Museum of London has created an interesting experience through mobile and Near Field Communication. For anyone who’s been in a museum, I think we can all agree that the little write-ups on plaques do not provide us with the information we want about particular pieces of art. Docents are THE source of information, but the average person going to a museum does not do so with a docent. Enter Near Field Communication (NFC).

Stations at various pieces of art are equipped with NFC tags. Want to know more about the piece of art? Just tap your phone to the tag. Information given.

This technology and particular experience does allow for users to get a deeper experience of the museum as a whole (receiving vouchers for the gift shops, purchasing prints, even sharing their experience in their social channels) – which is also interesting and useful – but I love the use of this technology to fulfill a deeper need that people truly have around art in museums.

I think this is a perfect use of this technology and the museum provides the right type of physical objects to interact with. This type of experience, through this technology, instantly elevates the standard museum experience. For that, thumbs way up.

Here’s the thing to watch out for though – people go to museums to look at and experience art. Not information about the art on a mobile phone. I think it would be a travesty to walk into a museum and see everyone with their heads down, eyes glued to their mobile phones. Going full-tilt with something like this has the potential to take the emotion out of the experience, and that’s not what we want.

Enabling technologies like that can enhance our everyday, world experience. We just have to be careful to not let it drive our everyday, world experience.

What’s the Future of Code/Image Scanning Technologies?

This is Part 3 in a multi-part series this week on Mobile Scanning Technologies. I think these types of technologies are powerful in the “new” OOH because they bridge the offline (real-world) with the online (virtual world). And the “new” OOH, to me, is all about connecting others with the places and things around them AND each other.

In the previous two posts in this series, I discussed the value I see in code/image scanning technologies and showed a couple of examples of their effective use. Even though I see their value, I feel like we have a long way to go in mass adoption of these technologies. Saying that, today, I want to look a little bit deeper into the future I see for them.

Technological advancements and consumer behavior are the two nuts at the center of this future, and insofar as mobile goes, they are inextricably linked. Mobile use, in general, has skyrocketed this year, and we’re seeing more and more smartphones in the market. And with smartphones come apps. And with apps come the ability for deeper, unique experiences between brands and consumers and between consumers themselves. All does not hinge on smartphones and apps, but it’s important to know as these technologies grow and become a part of our everyday life, so does the comfort with using them to the fullest ability. The device and what it can do is powerful, and it’s only going to continue getting more powerful.

Now, enter consumer behavior – the problem with code/image scanning technologies right now is that they’re not affecting consumer behavior in the way I feel like they can. Consumers either a) don’t know what they are b) don’t know what they can do and/or c) don’t find the value in them to affect their behavior in a way that will affect mass change. Smartphones are a game changer. Code/image scanning technologies, at least “manual” scanning technologies, are not. Near-field communication (NFC), however, is. And this is really where I see the future of code/image scanning technologies.

If you’re not familiar, last month Google announced that they were going to include NFC capabilities (hardware/software) in their future phones. Nokia and Apple jumped in the ring, too. This, just like apps, is going to unleash a different level of power and comfort for the people who use them, which will soon be everyone. Now, I might be a couple of years off, but just this week, the NFC Forum developed a trademark that will show everyone where NFC can be enabled out in the public (below). So, it’s around the corner, albeit maybe a round corner.

Near Field Communication trademark

One of the primary benefits of NFC, and NFC-enabled devices, is the ability to turn your mobile phone into a payment device. This ability completely changes the way consumers “transact” – how they shop and pay for things. It has the ability to drastically affect consumer behavior. Just the same way that debit cards did years ago. This is the new debit card. Now, imagine that debit card being able to unlock customized brand content in the same way code/image scanning technologies do today. You’ve got it with NFC.

It’s based on the same principle as what we see today – a device scans something, recognizes it, and then serves up content. The only difference with NFC is there is no “manual scan,” only a “manual bump.” With a simple gesture, consumers get the same, potentially-rich experience they get today through opening an app and taking a picture. In my opinion, this makes the experience better, primarily because it’s easier. But once brands and consumers get comfortable with the technology, and as it evolves, the potential for deep, personalized, connected, and importantly, comfortable, experiences is high. And all of that equates to value.

Imagine the experience consumers could get through a place-based screen, delivering place-based content, but only personalized even more via NFC. Talk about mobile being a powerful connector to digital signage. Throughout the year, I’ve heard some in the industry talk about how mobile can feed the digital signage screen (ie – Tweet streams on digital signage) so that the signage is an extension of the mobile experience. NFC changes that paradigm – the digital signage actually feeds the mobile screen so that the mobile is an extension of the digital signage experience.

Again, I recognize that this is probably not the near-term future of code/image scanning technologies, but things move fast in the technology world. A disruptive technology like this will have a great impact on consumer behavior, so I believe it is the future for sure. I talk about the “new” OOH where technology enables the places and things around us to be turned “on,” where everything is a screen, and where people are a critical component of the “network.” Things are moving in this direction now and it’s exciting to be a part of it. I would encourage everyone to embrace the technologies that we have now and push them as far as they can be pushed, to keep experimenting, and most of all, to share, share, share. This is a brave new technological world and it keeps getting more and more interesting as the days go by.

What do YOU think? Agree or disagree?