Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What are some of the "hot trends" in digital signage?

The digital signage industry continues to grow at an accelerated pace and shows no signs of slowing down.  This is partly due to a constant flow of new technologies and improvements in manufacturing techniques.  The hardware components required for your typical digital signage installation are becoming faster, better and cheaper with each passing quarter.  It's truly a great time to be in the digital signage business so let's take a look at what's hot, right now.

1. Multi-Screen Installations

Digital signage network operators and A/V integrators are taking advantage of innovative new mounting options and lighter/thinner displays to create some stunning installations.  Displays can be ordered in an ever growing number of shapes and sizes (you can even find cylindrical ones) making them more of an architectural feature.  Then we have multi-screen video cards and video processors that are pushing the envelope of what can be displayed on a video-wall.  Screens are being laid out in patterns to create innovative visual effects and with 4K screens gaining in popularity, we're looking at some mighty impressive capabilities in the near future.  It used to be you would need projectors to cover a large surface with motion graphics but it's no longer the case.

2. Hybrid CMS Software Solutions

Android has become a very popular option for digital signage players but there is still big demand for PC based players.  One of the reason is video-walls, of course, but there are also other processor intensive applications that simply cannot currently be supported by Android devices.  This means your CMS software will need to be very flexible.  The ones that are hybrid right out of the box (like Navori QL) will be extremely popular.  Having the ability to create, manage and schedule content on any platform is definitely a hot trend.

3. CEC Remote Screen Control

One of the more interesting trends in digital signage has been hardware based screen control.  Having the ability to turn screens on and off or switch video inputs used to require commercial equipment that communicated via RS-232 (Serial Port).  This meant PCs because they were the only player hardware you could order with RS-232 ports.  This was an issue with Android devices since they lack serial ports.  However, second generation Android devices like the upcoming Navori QL StiX 3400 will offer HDMI-CEC control.  This protocol sends commands to any compatible device via the HDMI cable.  Expect Android devices that support this protocol to be a hot commodity.

4. Android based OPS devices

NEC is ahead of the game with its latest open pluggable specification device.  This small PC-like device slides in OPS-compliant displays and turns them into a complete integrated package, not unlike what you see in many SmartTV based signage displays.  However, this particular device packs a powerful punch with a performance akin to a full fledged PC.  With these devices you get the best of both worlds.  Lower prices and easy setup (basically, plug and play) with an experience that matches what you would normally get from a Windows based PC.  Expect to see more of these "commercial-grade" Android players in the months ahead.