Saturday, April 30, 2005 Digital-Signage Biz "Needs A Good Name", Summit Told


"'Until we can organise what we’re going to call this medium we’re going to struggle for the marketing dollars and we’re not going to get the advertising dollars. That’s the message coming from the agencies,' said Davies, speaking today at New York’s Digital Signage Summit.

But digital-signage success needs more than the mot juste. While Davies – like most from the marketing side of the business – sees technology taking a back seat to effective communication, there’s still a need for a turnkey system, he said: 'Is there a software package out there that does everything we want? [We] need a package we can take with us that’s bullet-proof.'"

Interesting read. Check out the whole article here.

Accenture gets feet wet with digital signage measurement brings us a nice article on Accenture's foray into digital signage:

"Tom Langeland, associate partner at Accenture’s Digital Media Services, said that despite much talk about targeting out-of-home audiences over the last few years there has been little action. Speaking at the Digital Signage Summit in New York City today, he said that a 'granular' approach to the industry is needed to reach an audience that is harder to reach, harder to satisfy and increasingly bombarded with irrelevant media.

Putting some of its $14bn revenue where its mouth is, Accenture has partnered with Smart Sign Media – an outdoor marketing firm specialising in LED signs – which has pioneered customer targeting based on data obtained using its proprietary Smartrak technology."

I don't quite think that technology is ready to put hard numbers on viership levels for digital signage networks, but I certainly think that this is a step in the right direction.

Albertsons Launches In-Store Media Network

"Albertson's, Inc. (NYSE: ABS) announced today that it is installing a new media system in key shopping areas in its stores to enhance the shopping experience for customers. The new system, which features 15-inch flat-panel LCD screens at each checkout lane and 42-inch plasma screens in select areas within the store, will roll out this spring in Albertsons stores in San Francisco, Jewel-Osco stores in Chicago, and Shaw's and Star Market stores in Boston. Other markets will follow throughout 2005.

The Albertsons media network will be driven by two systems. The network in the checkout lanes will be installed and managed by in-store media provider Premier Retail Networks (PRN). PRN will provide programming and sell advertising on the network, which will be broadcast on eye-level screens that customers can watch while waiting in line. Programming will include integrated information and advertising focused on health, home, and family.

The 42-inch plasma screens located along the perimeter of the store will be installed and managed by SignStorey, Inc. (SSI), a supplier of in-store digital advertising networks to the supermarket industry. SignStorey will provide programming and sell advertising on this network.

Read the complete press release here.

Helius and Harris Corporation Join Forces in H-Class Content Delivery Solution

For those digital signage deployments looking for a satellite-based contnet delivery solution comes news of a new partnership between Helius and Harris Corporation.

"Helius, Inc., the worldwide leader in business class data broadcasting solutions, and Harris Corporation (NYSE: HRS) Broadcast Communications Division announced today that Harris will integrate Helius’ patented software with its H-Class™ Content Delivery Platform. The agreement creates a new class of IP-ready video asset management products that extend the funct

Thursday, April 21, 2005

PRN wins digital signage award

PRN Corporation, the nation's largest in-store media provider, announced today that the company has received the 2005 Frost & Sullivan Market Leadership Award for the North American Digital Signage Market.

The Frost & Sullivan Market Leadership Award is given to the company that has exhibited market share leadership and substantial revenue growth, while driving market and technological innovation. The Award is based on data derived from interviews conducted by Frost & Sullivan and from proprietary data extensively researched by the firm.

According to Vineeta Kommineni, Industry Analyst, Frost & Sullivan, "PRN Corporation has used a strategy of organic growth and acquisitions to rapidly expand the digital signage market and perch itself as the sole Tier 1 vendor in the industry. The company has battled the cynicism and uncertainty which accompany an unproven media vehicle to bring clients across retail categories such as mass merchandising, warehouse clubs, home electronics and grocery into
the fold of the industry. We believe that PRN's 12-year presence in the
industry has endowed it with mature proprietary software and refined processes to take and maintain the lead over its competitors in a market that is on a steep growth trajectory."

In 2004, PRN rolled out its TV networks across 325 Costco stores, 140
ShopRite grocery stores and 143 Pathmark grocery stores. The company recently inducted the CEO of Carat North America and the CMO of NBC Universal Television Group to its Board of Directors further boosting its competence.

"We are pleased that Frost & Sullivan has honored PRN with the Market Leadership Award," said Charlie Nooney, chief executive officer of PRN. "Our dedication to creating entertaining and informative media networks at leading retailers throughout the U.S. has enabled us to continually deliver significant value to our retailers, advertisers and content partners and to enhance the shopping experience for consumers."

The complete press release is here.

Digital Signage and Electronic Paper

This isn't big news, but is cool, and will probably be a serious display technology for digital signage in the not-too-distant future (when they work out issues about color and resolution):

"The SyncroSign Message Board by Gyricon (and Xerox PARC) uses SmartPaper, an electronic paper technology to provide scheduled content changes to one or multiple signs, across the network. Among its features are 802.11b and wireless interface, auto-sensing power source, and programmable message content."

For those who haven't seen this before, smart paper is basically made of an electrostatic ink embedded between two layers of transparent or colored plastic. Like LCDs, you can control which "pixels" appear black and white by applying a charge to that specific area. However, unlike LCDs, once you've changed the paper's configuration, you don't need to supply it with power until you want to change it again.

There's a much better explanation at this article, from the MIT Advertising Lab.

Toshiba unveils new 3-D display

Over at ComputerWeekly they have an article about a new 3D LCD display technology being developed by Toshiba. Here's a snip:

"Toshiba has announced a display technology that makes 3D images appear to stand out several centimetres from the surface of a specially designed screen when viewed from an angle.

The new technology, said Toshiba, opened up new areas of application for 3D displays, including e-learning, simulations of buildings and landscapes, and arcade games.

Toshiba is continuing to refine the technology, including the integration of touchscreen control, but plans to ship commercial products based on it within two years."

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Simple Digital Signage with VertigoXmedia's Xpresenter

This is an interesting product for people who want a very simple, single-player digital signage application:

"VertigoXmedia, a leading provider of broadcast graphics software and hardware, today announced that NEC Display Solutions of America will demonstrate Vertigo's Xpresenter™ in the NEC booth, SU9350, at NAB2005.

Xpresenter is an affordable, stand-alone system that provides an easy way to create digital signage applications directly inside Microsoft® PowerPoint®. It runs inside the familiar PowerPoint interface, enabling users to quickly and easily develop high-end presentations that feature CG graphics, animations, and broadcast-quality video. By leveraging all the features of PowerPoint in addition to Vertigo's graphics automation toolsets, Xpresenter dramatically reduces the time and effort required to develop broadcast-quality."

The press release can be found here.

iDirect Technologies and Helius Inc. Announce Strategic Technology Relationship

News from the satellite front:

"iDirect Technologies, a privately held company that designs, develops, and markets the fastest, most reliable bi-directional satellite-based broadband access solutions, and Helius, Inc., the worldwide leader in business class data broadcasting solutions, today announced a strategic technology relationship to provide an evolutionary platform for the distribution of data, rich media and business information.
The joint iDirect - Helius solution will provide customers a comprehensive enterprise-wide data broadcast infrastructure ideal for corporate broadcasts, distance learning, digital signage, software updates, and desktop Internet access. Data broadcasting over satellite delivers audio, video, streaming data, software programs and other digital or multimedia content to multiple locations simultaneously. IP content is transmitted via iDirect powered satellite networks to Helius MediaGate™ routers where it is then routed for local use."

Read the press release here.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Ingram Micro Opens New Technology Solutions Center For East Coast Customers and Vendor Partners

"Generating demand for new technologies and developing valuable resources for its customers, Ingram Micro Inc. (NYSE: IM - News) today announced the opening of its East Coast Solutions Center, a multifunctional development, testing and training lab designed exclusively for North America technology solution providers and vendor partners.

Located in Buffalo, NY, the highly anticipated East Coast Solutions Center marks Ingram Micro's second multi-million dollar education, and training facility and is the first center to feature emerging Digital Home and Digital Signage solutions and demonstrations. Equipped with more than $5 million in technologies and featuring more than 85 vendors, 28 market categories and solutions and a team of highly skilled and trained technicians, Ingram Micro's Solutions Centers offer a unique and compelling sales resource for solution providers and vendor partners."

Read the complete release here.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Digital signage boosts AV Industry

From a recent Sound & Video Contractor survey of AV professionals:

"Among the most positive trends respondents indicated was the increased use of digital signage, particularly in the retail sector, for delivering a message, selling products, or simply providing information. 'The market for large information displays is growing at a tremendous rate, as increased competition leads to lower prices, and demand increases from businesses and universities,' says Bob O'Donnell, research VP of clients, mobility and display technology at market research firm IDC."

Read the complete article here.

Nice MPEG2 vs MPEG4 digital signage article

Sound & Video Contractor has a good primer on the basic differences between the MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 variants likely to be used in digital signage networks today. From the article:

"MPEG-1 and -2 use similar basic compression techniques but differ in terms of target bit rate and image quality. MPEG-2 also supports the field-based interlaced video that is the standard for analog video and television. And, in common practice, MPEG-2 encodes video at its full-frame resolution, while MPEG-1 typically reduces images to a quarter-screen resolution, then zooms them back to full screen for NTSC playback. That almost necessarily yields some image quality compromises. You're likely to run across MPEG-1 still — including in digital signage applications — because of its smaller file sizes and lower bit rate and because of its ubiquity in the computer industry. It can be compressed and uncompressed very easily “in software” without monopolizing the system CPU.
Should you wait for MPEG-4? That depends on the immediacy of your needs. If the last few months are any indication, digital signage is a burgeoning market, and that has little to do with MPEG-4. As I've seen from writing about technology for about a dozen years, technology rarely moves as fast as everyone expects. New technology itself is also rarely as important as real solutions to real problems. Technology is just an enabler, and infrastructures can and should be built and rebuilt as products evolve, if and when they increase productivity."

You can read the entire thing here.

RGB over fiber from Multidyne

More RGB over fiber tech in the pipeline, this time from Multidyne:

"The Multidyne RGB-5000, to be shown at NAB2005 in Las Vegas, provides a long-haul transport solution for high-resolution RGB or VGA video sources via a single fiber.

It provides a total analog bandwidth of up to 500MHz supporting loop-through HD15 XVGA inputs. Resolutions of up to 1600x1200 pixels are supported over one optical fiber. It also supports RGB HV, RGsB, VGA, SVGA and UXGA, component and analog HDTV signals.

Multidyne also will exhibit its DVI-3000 DVI fiber optic transport link. It provides a transport solution for high-resolution, 1600x1200, DVI digital video sources via four fibers. The maximum transmission distance is 700m. The system has a data throughput of 1.6Gb/s with no compression."

With that sort of bandwidth available, it makes the product ideal for applications in the digital signage arena.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Changing the face of electronic retail displays

From ITWeb:

"The application of Panasonic Plasma Display panels as the projection medium for disseminating information has reached a new level of acceptance in SA, following the formation of an alliance between the brand and Ethniks InfoChannel Broadcast Multimedia, the official distributor of Scala InfoChannel software for southern Africa.

The development reflects the current trend towards
digital signage, datacasting, digital in-store merchandising, retail theatre and electronic billboards, where converging information and telecommunication technologies are being leveraged to create a platform for corporate and marketing communication to customers, staff and the general public; as well as datacasting for general in-house communication and training purposes."

The full article can be found here.

Display Systems Forms Holding Company

Display Systems Inc., a leader in the design, development and manufacture of displays and fixtures for the retail merchandising environment, announced here today it has changed its corporate name and structure to that of a holding company, The DSI Group, effective immediately.

Under the new DSI umbrella structure, initially there will be two operating entities: DSIdisplay and DSIconnect. The DSI Group, however, will remain responsible for the design, development, engineering, prototyping, manufacturing, consumer testing and implementation.

Read the press release here.

Scala and Hughes Network Systems to Create "The Wow Factor"

Scala and Hughes have joined forces to create a visually stunning registration entrance for The In-Store Show, due to be held at Earls Court between the 14th-16th June.
Mike Fabian, Vice President, EMEA at Scala, is enthusiastic about the involvement of Scala at The In-Store Show: “This sponsorship deal enables us to create a ‘wow’ factor at the entrance of the show, and gets our work in front of every visitor that attends. It’s an exciting project and we’ll be harnessing the skills of our other partners to create a quite unique environment at The In-Store Show.”

Hughes will be partnering with Scala in the project and also sharing a stand at the show to showcase their broadcast capabilities. Hughes is the leading supplier of broadband satellite network solutions working for clients such as Tesco and Asda.

Read the press release here.

Monday, April 11, 2005

i-vu digital signage network expands

In more ways than one... the hair salon digital signage network founded in the UK is both expanding its presence there and in the US as well as lengthing their content loop to 90 minutes.

According to,

"The loop has increased from 45 to 90 minutes, which i-vu says increases dwell-time and interaction “while generating further creative opportunities for advertisers”. Research by Target Group Index (TGI) in 2003 had found that typical i-vu customers spend 90 minutes on each salon visit, so the longer loop also means viewers are less likely to see content repeated.

The new content, squarely aimed at i-vu’s core audience of affluent females, includes food, art, nature, travel, fashion and music segments."

You can read their whole article on the subject here.

Subways tune in to new revenue

USA Today has a nice article on subway digital signage from Rail Network. They say:

"The Rail Network, a private company based in New York, is installing five 15-inch, flat-screen televisions inside each of 100 rail cars and eventually will put them in all of the Atlanta system's 338 cars. Later this spring, trains will feature updated news programming in English or Spanish from Atlanta's ABC affiliate, as well as three music channels.

Passengers will have to bring their own headsets. Televisions will have closed captioning, and audio will be available only through FM radios and FM-ready cell phones.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) expects to generate $20 million over 10 years in advertising revenue from the deal. That's a small part of MARTA's $316 million operating budget and is unlikely to delay a proposed one-way fare increase from $1.75 to $2."

The entire article can be found here.

IDC returns to profitability

Satellite data provider IDC has returned to profitability thanks, in part, to its entrance into the digital signage market (along with everybody else, it would seem)...

"Revenues for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2004/2005 grew from $2.4 million to $3.2 million, representing an increase of over $800,000 or 33% compared to the previous year's fourth quarter. Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $117,645 compared to a net loss of $116,768 posted for the same period last year.

For the year, the company generated revenues of $13.8 million, which represents an increase of $5.3 million or over 63% from last year's revenues. The company recorded net earnings of $706,344 or $0.019 per common share - which is a significant improvement over last year's loss of $4.2 million."

You can read the complete press release here.

ViewSonic Flat-Panels Offer Superior Image Quality and Input Versatility for Digital Signage Applications

From the wire:

"ViewSonic(R) Corp., a worldwide leader in visual display products, today introduced two large-screen, flat-panel displays designed for digital signage, videoconferencing and other commercial applications. Featuring superior front-of-screen performance and professional designs, the 40-inch N4000wP LCD and 42-inch VPW4200 plasma displays are ideal for airports, conference rooms, information kiosks, studios, tradeshows and financial exchanges.

Fully configurable for custom installations, the N4000wP and VPW4200 provide the ability to stream data and video continuously from both computer and consumer electronic sources through a wide range of durable analog and digital video inputs and extensive user controls. The flat screens feature advanced anti-glare treatments to provide clear pictures without reflections or image distortion at any angle. Various optional stands, wall mounts and speakers are also available to satisfy diverse commercial setting requirements."

Read the complete article here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Scheduling tools coming to Electronic paper products

What's sure to be the first of many stories of this stype...

"Meeting Maker, Inc., a leader in collaborative time management software solutions, and Gyricon LLC, creator of innovative SmartPaper(TM) electronic media-based display technologies today announced they have formed a strategic partnership to deliver scheduling information to electronic paper-based signage. Resource Scheduler, Meeting Maker, Inc.'s leading web-based resource management solution, now seamlessly integrates with Gyricon's award-winning electronic paper-based SyncroSigns to display and distribute actual meeting space location information. Resource Scheduler will also support Gyricon's newly announced SyncroSign Messenger, which will be available in June."

Until E*Ink and other electronic paper providers can offer full-color displays with fast update times, they'll continue to play second fiddle to LED, LCD and plasma technologies for most digital signage applications. However, for applications where static content is displayed does not need to change often, electronic paper will certainly have its place.

Read the full article here.

SMART announces new display products group

Hovering over the boundary between interactive kiosk and digital sign is a new line of products from SMART technologies for touchscreens and large-screen displays. SMART today announced that, "it has launched its Display Products Group in order to deliver thin film transistor liquid-crystal display solutions for casino gaming systems as well as kiosk, ATM, point-of-sale, and industrial control systems. The new Display Products Group will benefit from the technical and engineering expertise of the LCD development team based in Korea and the sales, operations, procurement, purchasing, manufacturing, and engineering expertise of SMART employees based in the United States and around the world."

Read the article about it over at KioskMarketplace.

Monday, April 04, 2005

New Zealand supermarkets try out in-store advertising

A few in-store digital signage trials are starting to show results in New Zealand, according to this article from the New Zealand Herald:

"New television networks could be about to mushroom all over New Zealand, targeting customers in supermarkets, banks and retail chains.

Supermarket giant Progressive, which operates Foodtown, Countdown and Woolworths, finished a six-month trial in its Newmarket store last week and is deciding whether to proceed with a roll-out.

'A lot of people love it - but just because people are enthusiastic doesn’t mean it makes commercial sense,' managing director Richard Umbers said.

Big money could be at issue for those pursuing what are variously described as retail media networks, captive audience networks, digital media networks and even 'narrowcasting'. "

European subway lines get digital signage

From the International Herald-Tribune:

"In a few weeks, Viacom Outdoor plans to start installing 66 screens in the London Underground that are essentially video posters with changing text and animated images. The animated signs are made of liquid crystals that realign under electrical stimulation."

The article notes that there has been the most pickup in Berlin train stations, but London and Barcelona are closing the gap quickly.

Read the whole article here.