Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Good things to say about digital signage networks

MediaWeek has some uncharacteristically nice things to say digital signage in an article released today. The focus here is on so called info-tainment, where advertising and entertainment content is mixed in with news, sports, weather and the like for a more pleasurable viewing experience. From the article:

"I was in Liverpool Street station last week waiting for a train and caught myself watching the news on the big screen.

The big surprise was that, instead of feeling irritated, I was actually enjoying it and the realisation came over that, yes, different types of screen media are a good idea and engaging in the right environment.

With moving images and a mix of advertising and editorial, screen media engages consumers, which can only have a positive impact on "at destination" sales or improving brand association, making it an excellent advertising opportunity for a range of brands.

In the majority of instances, the client has the power to remotely change any aspect of the creative in real time, which is obviously a huge bonus for creating timely and impactful ads.

It also means that outdoor day parts finally become a reality rather than an ongoing myth.

But a note of caution – for screen media to make a genuine and positive impact it must be targeted and relevant."

You can find the rest of the article here.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Hollister Co. Awarded Digital Retailer of the Year

Hollister Co. received the first-ever Digital Retailer of the Year award, which was presented last week at the Digital Retailing Expo in Chicago for Hollister's innovative use of digital signage to display the surfing and beach lifestyle that the brand represents, PlayNetwork Inc. announced today.

In 50 of its teen-oriented beach apparel stores across the United States, Hollister installed unique "video window" systems designed by PlayNetwork to showcase two live video feeds from Huntington Beach, California -- Surf City, USA.

"Hollister's vision of the ideal in-store video experience for their stores has led to a digital signage solution unlike any other, and we are very proud to have played a part in bringing their vision to life," said Darrell Champagne, PlayNetwork's VP Systems Engineering. "PlayNetwork congratulates the entire Hollister organization for this well-deserved award."

NEC Display Solutions, supplier of video-wall enabled liquid crystal displays that are part of the in-store display systems, nominated Hollister for the award. The award ceremony, held May 18 in Chicago, also recognized retailers Best Buy, Esso International, Mazda and Tesco with honorable mentions for their digital signage innovations.

Find the rest of the PR here.

DisplaySearch releases LCD panel customer satisfaction rankings

I swiped this from Broadcast Engineering (this article, specifically). Good to know for those of us in the digital signage industry.

Market researcher and consultant DisplaySearch released the results of its fifth Annual TFT LCD Customer Satisfaction Survey, where buyers from LCD monitor, notebook PC and LCD TV brands and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) rate their LCD suppliers' 2004 performance across five key categories including Quality, Technology, Logistics, Service & Support, and Commercial Terms. This year's report benchmarks LCD TV panel performance for the first time.

Display buyers participating included Acer, AGNeovo, AmTRAN, Apple, Fujitsu, GVision, HP, IBM, iiyama, LGE, Mitsubishi, NEC, NEC-Mitsubishi, Philips, Samsung, Sony and Syntax. Panel suppliers rated included AUO, BOE Hydis, CMO, CPT, Fujitsu, HannStar, Hitachi, IDTech, Innolux, LG.Philips LCD (LPL), NEC, QDI, Samsung, Sanyo Epson, Sharp, TMDisplay and Toppoly.

Highlights from the survey results include:

* LG.Philips LCD was number one in overall customer satisfaction in the large-area LCD industry for the fourth consecutive year. LPL was the highest rated supplier in each application, the first time a single supplier has led all applications.
* LPL was also ranked first in Service & Support in each category.
* LCD monitor modules: While LPL was number one in Service & Support, it also led in Technology. Meanwhile, NEC led in Quality and Logistics and QDI led in Commercial Terms. Following LPL in total LCD monitor module customer satisfaction were NEC, Samsung, Sharp and Sanyo Epson.
* LCD TV modules: LPL led in Service & Support, Technology and Commercial Terms with Sharp leading in Quality and Logistics. Sharp was second followed by CMO, AUO and CPT.

The complete DisplaySearch report will be released in June.

Samsung ask digital sign makers to standardize

In an effort to help spur growth in the digital signage industry, Samsung's chief asks the industry for standards. From aka.tv:

"LCD TV makers should standardize on four large sizes to cut costs and accelerate product-development cycles, the president of Samsung Electronics LCD Business, the world’s biggest LCD maker, said this week.

Lee Sang-wan called on the manufacturers to concentrate on 40-inch, 46-inch, 52-inch and 57-inch TVs, according to a Korea Times report. TV and monitor screen sizes are measured diagonally.

'To save equipment-development and product costs and to accelerate the time-to-market delivery of advanced large-screen LCD TVs, the entire industry should come together and cooperate on LCD glass-size standardization,' Lee was reported saying at a meeting of the Society for Information Display (SID) in Boston, Massachusetts.

'The market is not something to be passively predicted, but actively created,' Lee said.

You can read the whole article here.

Lighthouse Reports Growing Demand for LED Digital Signage Products

Lighthouse Technologies, a leading manufacturer and global supplier of state-of-the-art light emitting diode (LED) modular video panels, has reported growing interest in its family of LED screens for digital signage, recognized as one of the fasted growing segments of the LED marketplace.

To address the unique demands of the digital signage applications, Lighthouse continues to launch new LED visual display products, including the P-12ER, P10 and P12, as well as the industry's first portable, self-contained LED screen, the PopVision, debuting next week at InfoComm in Las Vegas.

The new PopVision screen as well as Lighthouse 10mm R10 and 6mm R6 panels are being showcased at Booth # 7701 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Based on its proprietary M4 uniformity control technology, Lighthouse 6mm screens deliver high definition images and reduce low-level noise. The result is extra crystal clear images in very low brightness, producing strikingly high resolution to captivate audiences for spectacular close viewing capabilities.

According to iSupply, a leading analyst firm covering the video display industry, LED video technology has become the preference for indoor and outdoor venues due to its affordability, brightness, durability and scalability. The worldwide market of LED video displays, valued at $639 million in 2004, is expected to rise to $755 million in 2010. iSupply also projects the retail-signage market, which occupies the largest share of LED text, graphics and animation displays, is expected to grow from 41,248 sq. meters in 2005 to 69,832 sq. meters in 2010.

The rest of the PR can be found here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Choosing the right tech for digital displays

KioskMarketplace is running a nice article about some of the digital signage technology options showcased at the Digital Retailing Expo, and which ones are right for different deployments. From the article:

"A number of expert panel discussions were conducted at the second annual Digital Retailing Expo, held May 18-19 at Chicago’s Navy Pier Exhibition Center. Among them was a chat on "Choosing the Right Technology for Effective Deployment," a big-picture overview of making smart hardware and software choices for new digital signage applications.

...[T]he panel was asked which hardware and software platforms are generally considered the best for digital display applications.

'There is no one best solution,' [ActiveLight CEO] Gleeson responded without hesitation. 'There are situations where customers want to author their own content within the system. There are situations where there is legacy equipment to be dealt with.'

That said, all of the panelists are fans of standard hardware components.

'I’m bullish on industry-standard hardware platforms," Porter said. "It’s amazing what a $500 computer can do. Don’t fight the 10,000 Chinese guys who are trying to sell you something on the cheap on the hardware side.'"

The whole article can be found here.

Embedded Windows for Digital Signage

From PRWeb:

"Scala, Inc.... today announced preconfigured Microsoft Windows XPe for PC platforms from Equus and Panasonic. This furthers Scala’s commitment to overall system performance and reliability.

"XPe is an optimized version of Microsoft Windows XP Pro specifically meant for embedded systems, such as Scala. 'This embedded version has been customized through selection of specific OS components by Scala's R&D Team,' said Jeffrey Porter, Scala Executive Vice-President. 'Because it’s preconfigured for Scala applications, customers will find this version of XPe to have a much lower Total Cost of Ownership compared to an off-the-shelf version of Windows XP Pro.'

"XPe from Scala has been shown to deliver optimal performance in 24x7, non-stop system environments, while retaining the benefits and compatibility of industry standard Windows XP Pro.

"Preconfigured XPe is available on the new ASUS Pundit-R Small Form Factor PC from Equus. This system is based on the high performance ATI RS300 chipset, providing outstanding graphics performance and support for most 16x9 resolutions needed for digital signage applications.

"Preconfigured XPe is also available for the Panasonic Plugin PC VC250. Scala resellers will be able to purchase the PluginPC from Panasonic preconfigured and loaded with XPe.

"Several Scala distributors, including ActiveLight (www.activelight.com), will bundle Equus or Panasonic PCs with XPe for customers who desire a single-source for complete digital signage system components.

I can't say much about Windows XPe (except that I wouldn't trust any digital signage systems on windows), but I do like the Asus Pundit-R :) Good thing it runs on our FireCast digital signage software.

Find the whole press release here.

ActiveLight carries Scala digital signage software

Scala, Inc.... and ActiveLight, Inc. the leading value-added distributor of advanced displays, dynamic signage solutions, and projection equipment, today announced that ActiveLight is now distributing InfoChannel® 3, Scala’s end-to-end software solution for digital signage networks.

As a result of the agreement, qualified ActiveLight resellers and dealers now have access to Scala’s award-winning InfoChannel products online at www.activelight.com.


The agreement reinforces ActiveLight and Scala’s continued commitment to the digital signage market. ActiveLight is a single source for a complete selection of top quality advanced displays, dynamic signage solutions, and projection equipment from more than 50 manufactures, including NEC, Panasonic, Samsung, Pioneer, Sony and others.

Read the whole release here.

Scala adds support for 3D displays

Scala, Inc.... today announced that Scala customers will now be able to build a 3D signage network, combining the remarkable 3D display technology from Opticality with Scala's leading network and scripting technologies.

Scala’s players (IC3 Player and IC3 Designer, version 7.4 or newer) can now drive 3D screens from Opticality and/or conventional screens through a single interface, while still keeping Scala's industry-leading features such as: easy scheduling, device control, billing logs, and advanced scripting. The Opticality EX will also work with Scala’s advanced network distribution software across point-to-point or broadcast networks, with system health monitoring, remote maintenance, and other applications.

Find the entire press release here.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

ViewSonic combines flat panel, video over IP

ViewSonic® Corp., a worldwide visual display leader, today announced industry-leading digital signage technology and simple, comprehensive solutions designed to address audiovisual requirements in commercial workplace and public settings. At this week's Digital Retailing Expo in Chicago, the company is demonstrating a wide range of unique configurations, including the industry's first networked display featuring integrated IP networking technology and its first out-of-the-box digital signage bundle for under $1,000. ViewSonic's digital signage strategy leverages the company's leadership in visual technology and furthers the company's vision of the visual experience by providing solutions that range from a single display for small businesses to enterprise solutions that support multiple displays in several locations.

Designed for large-scale installations in markets like retail, hospitality and healthcare, ViewSonic's high-end digital signage solution features industry standard Internet Protocol (IP) networking capabilities within large-screen displays to create the first networked displays that can directly decode video over IP and be remotely managed from virtually anywhere in the world via the Internet. ViewSonic combines its award-winning display and media networking technology with Tivella, Inc.'s Tivella Administration Server to completely eliminate the need for a local PC or video converter box typically required in other digital signage offerings. This streamlined solution significantly improves the total cost of ownership of a digital signage system by increasing reliability, enhancing flexibility and simplifying installations.

Read the press release here.

RDM and MagicMedia sign deal of some sort

Digital signage network owner Magic Media Networks and technology provider Real Digital Media are partnering to deliver digital signage to gyms across the nation. Given the cash-starved nature of Magic Media, this announcement looks more like stock promotion efforts than any actual evidence of a real deployment taking place.

From their press release:

"Using RDM"s family of NEOCAST digital signage products, Magic Media Networks previously launched the GYM TV destination television across 40 premium Gold"s Gyms and Worlds Gyms throughout Florida. Magic Media Networks is now funding the Health & Fitness digital signage network"s expansion across the United States. The network intends to encompass a minimum of 1000 premium Health & Fitness locations combined with a minimum of 14 National Advertisers. Gym TV will air First Run Hollywood Movie Previews, Music Videos, Fitness, Sports Entertainment and Leisure Advertisements."

You can read the whole article here.

Symon announces digital signage hardware

Symon Communications, Inc., a global provider of broadcast and digital signage solutions, announced today the launch of the Symon Digital Appliance (SDA-500(TM)) at the Digital Retail Expo in Chicago. The SDA series of advanced network-manageable products combines Symon's expertise in data collection and visual display technology, maximizing the efficiency and flexibility of delivering broadcast and digital signage content while minimizing costs.
Symon TargetVision digital signage solutions give retailers the tools to easily create, schedule, and broadcast unique content with the SDA-500 for any type of retail outlet. Using strategically placed flat-panel LCD or plasma displays, the SDA-500 delivers information with impact to the retail environment to maximize its reach. This greatly enhances the frequency with which product messages can be delivered. Messages with dynamic real-time data integration and content delivery are created using an integrated lineup of innovative Symon Communication components: the Symon Enterprise Server(TM).

Read the complete press release here.

NEC Display Solutions Ranked #1 in Stand-Alone LCD Monitor

"NEC Display Solutions of America, the leading stand-alone provider of flat panel desktop displays, today announced their ranking as the #1 best-selling stand-alone LCD monitor provider in the U.S. in 2004 according to iSuppli's quarterly monitor reports. Despite fierce competition and notable price erosion in the LCD monitor market in 2004, NEC maintained their top ranking by introducing competitively priced new lines of AccuSync and MultiSync branded desktop displays, delivering productivity-enhancing technologies and maintaining an industry leading level of quality and reliability. To further nurture the loyalty of its customers and channel partners, the company also expanded its service programs and environmental initiatives to help reduce support costs and provide comprehensive e-waste recycling solutions."

Read the complete press release here.

Mercury Online buys remote rebooting devices

Digital signage software provider Mercury Online has purchased a number of remote rebooting devices from Nighthawk Systems in an apparent bid to make their digital signage players more reliable. There's a vote of confidence if I've ever heard one :) From the PR:

"Nighthawk Systems, Inc. (OTCBB:NIHK), a leading provider of intelligent wireless power control products, announced today that Mercury Online Solutions has placed an order for 75 remote rebooting units, including 25 of Nighthawk's NH8 rack-mounted units and 50 NH100 units. The units will be installed in multiple, widespread locations as part of Mercury Online Solutions' ongoing three-year digital communications contract with one of the nation's largest financial holding companies.

In a recent article in the Dynamic Digital Signage Directory titled 'Building the Digital Signage Network,' John Kirkpatrick, Chief Sales Officer of Mercury Online Solutions, stressed the importance of being able to monitor and reboot every location remotely in order to have an efficient, effective digital signage network. Mercury Online has utilized Nighthawk products to remotely reboot digital displays for customers since the fall of 2002."

Sure thing, but I think I'll use a Linux-based digital signage system and not have to worry about hardware rebooting cards.

Read the whole press release here.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Another restroom digital signage network

Digital signage networks for restrooms? Apparently so, as reported by aka.tv:

"The next time you visit the washroom in a London bar, you might find yourself face-to-face with the latest innovation in advertising – the AddMirror.

Working exactly like a regular mirror until electronically activated, the AddMirror uses two-way glass and intelligent lighting to reveal up to six A4-sized still advertisements, displayed from inside the device using preset lighting sequences. When switched off, the AddMirror reverts back to being a standard mirror.

The product, developed by privately-owned British ambient-media company Addirect, is described by managing director Ben Grant as “the next generation of static advertising, with four times the effect of normal panels” and aims to provide cost-effective exposure in an environment that delivers reliable footfall and high dwell time.

You can read the complete article here.

Toronto rolls out signage to subways

In a bold move by the Toronto Transit Commission, The ONESTOP [digital signage] Network was approved for a full rollout in subway stations across Toronto. State-of-the-art LCD screens will be installed to provide Toronto's more than 875,000 daily commuters with news, weather, sports, up to the minute TTC service updates, and valuable messaging for community non-profit groups.

Over the course of the seven-year contract, ONESTOP Media Group will install and operate the custom designed technology at no cost to the Commission or the tax payers of Toronto. The new service will cost between $14-18 million to build and operate. Over the term of the contract it will generate $3-4 million dollars in revenue for the TTC.

Read the full press release here.

friendlyway Forms Strategic Marketing Partnership with IMPART

News from the wire:

"friendlyway Corporation (OTCBB:FDWY) a developer and marketer of interactive self-service solutions, today expands its market reach with a strategic, exclusive distribution partnership with Seattle, WA-based, IMPART Media Group (IMG) (www.impartinc.com), an innovative provider of dynamic media solutions for the emerging Out of Home Market. In blending development, marketing, and deployment forces, IMPART will be integrating their new 5th generation Digital Signage offering, IMPART Composer Enterprise Suite (iCES), with friendlyway's powerful array of software products.

friendlyway's Composer software provides creative control over content layout, allowing screening segmentation and the ability to show multiple media on one screen. With this software you can for example display live TV at the top of the screen, have a news ticker in the middle and interactive information on the bottom. This new integration of Composer will help create and manage rich dynamic content for the next generation of digital signage applications. IMPART will also expand on the friendlyway base product with Web Portal access and automated XML/RSS database integration that enables On Demand Control for the end-client and content distribution scalability.

Read the whole press release here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sainsbury's tests in-store TV

From aka.tv:

"Sainsbury’s in the UK goes live with its trial of supermarket TV this week, claiming that it will be able to target customers more precisely than its rivals by using a much greater number of screens.

The chain, number three in Britain’s grocery market, will deploy about 120 screens in each store for the trial of a digital-signage service it is calling Fresh TV. By contrast, market leader Tesco uses about 55 per store for its Tesco TV network, operational since the spring of 2004, while ASDA has 21 per store in its ASDA Live pilot project.

Fifteen channels will be dedicated to separate product areas at Sainsbury’s, with content split according to the now-familiar ‘editorial and advertising’ model: 70 percent of output will consist of customer information, consumer tips and promotions for Sainsbury’s own brands, while 30 percent will advertise third-party brands. Participating advertisers are Bernard Matthews (poultry products), Coca-Cola, Goodfellas (pizza), Heinz, Kingsmill (bakery products) and Muller (yoghurt)."

Full arcticle can be found here.

SkyStream and Helius Enter into Cross-Licensing Agreement

This is a snip from what is possibly the shortest press release I've ever seen (barring the obligatory 'about the company' paragraphs):

"SkyStream® Inc., the leader in IP video delivery, and Helius Inc., the worldwide leader in business-class data broadcasting solutions, today announced a technology cross-licensing agreement where each company will license patented technology from the other in designing IP-based satellite and terrestrial networks."

Helius is a satellite multicast provider for several digital signage software vendors.

Read the complete release here.

Bell Canada starts major push into digital signage arena

Telecommunications Online has an interesting article on Bell Canada's push into digital signage:

"Bell’s Digital Signage Solution is a soup-to-nuts offering that provides businesses with services ranging from ad content creation and in-store equipment to digital screens for displaying ads to real-time reporting of service. Better yet, the solution gives a business the ability to update, adapt and change ads in real time via Bell Canada’s content management and distribution systems. Bell and Convergent will work jointly to commercialize the service and install equipment at customer sites.

Although the logistics of each customer site will differ, Bell Canada will equip the customer with digital screens, an IP distribution server, a digital video recorder and an IP connection. Bell can work with the customer’s infrastructure, but typically the connection would consist of either a DSL line or faster, depending on the size of the retail outlet. Bell Canada will provide the customer with a VPN connection to its own secure portal, where Bell’s professional services will take a customer’s static poster and transform it into a more dynamic format. A retail customer can also access the portal to change the content in real time based on time of day and geographic region."

Read the entire article here.

Tech Electronics To License Simtrol Control and Management Software for New Digital Signage Application

Simtrol, Inc. (OTCBB: SMRL), a designer and developer of Windows-based control software solutions that enable enterprise-wide command, control, monitoring and diagnostics of otherwise incompatible devices including audiovisual ("AV"), security and other communication assets, today announced it will license its OnGuard control and management software to Tech Electronics, Inc. (TEi) for use in its AxisTV dynamic visual messaging and digital signage applications.

Simtrol, Inc. is a designer and developer of Windows-based software solutions that enable the command, control, and monitoring of otherwise incompatible devices including audiovisual, security and other communication assets for corporate, educational, and government enterprises. The Company's device control product, ONGOER(TM) provides control for devices by enabling a PC to become a robust and reliable control platform that is easy to configure, easy to program, and easy to use. OnGuard, the Company's asset management product, provides remote, server-based proactive monitoring, management and diagnostics as it collects real-time information from ONGOER installations to provide instant status, control, notification, and reporting functions.

The complete press release is here.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

DynaScan Announces 360° Outdoor Video Display

Digital Media Designer brings us this news:

DynaScan Technology Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of 360° LED video displays, recently announced the release of its 2 ´ 50” dynamic digital display for outdoor applications, the DS0706L.

With fine pixels of 2mm x 2mm, resolution reaching 1092 x 304, and brightness of over 5,000 nits, the weatherproofed outdoor model delivers enhanced image quality that is high in contrast, resolution and brightness to ensure maximum visibility even under direct sunlight.

As for system networking, the DS0706L is equipped with all standard video inputs, including S-Video, DVI, VGA, Component and Composite, allowing integration with other display systems and providing consistent contents all across networked media.

Read the whole article here.

Thane Direct partners with Seen It On TV

Home shopping specialist Thane Direct has partnered with Seen It On TV to advertise Thane’s products on in-store televisions throughout the UK.

"Thomas Parrott, European sales manager of direct selling and TV shopping specialist Thane, said, 'We are excited to bring Thane Direct’s product expertise together with the in-store TV marketing knowledge that Seen It On TV has... This is a new area of retail distribution which we have been eager to expand in to, we hope this is the first of many more products we will work on together.'"

AxisTV to Deliver Syndicated Data Streams

Hey, this looks pretty cool:

"TEi (Tech Electronics, Inc.) announced that it has reached an agreement with Allheadlinenews.com to deliver a wide range of news, weather, financial market and entertaining content to AxisTV Channel Players.

The new data feed services will enable clients to automatically populate digital signs with relevant and timely content. In the digital signage arena, where quality content is crucial, automated data feeds further reduce the content creation burden typically relegated to marketing departments or other support personnel."

Subscribers can choose from a variety of products and bundles including:

• News: Current headlines and article summaries to keep you abreast of current news stories.
• Weather: Display live local and international weather for up-to-date forecasts that affect your day
• Horoscopes: Access automatically updating daily horoscopes
• Today in History: Provides a daily summary of news and notable events and occurrences
• Markets: Feed of US market index data. Delayed 15 Minutes
• Quote of the Day: Automatically updating daily quote, selected from our database of over 140,000 famous and/or inspiring quote database.

Read the whole press release here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Flasmas are coming!

KioskMarketplace has an article on yet another floor-embedded plasma screen. I'm still skeptical of this kind of display as an advertising medium, but some people seem to like it...

"Dubbed 'Flasma,' the technology allows digital displays to be mounted in the floor, with emphasized potential for the retail space. To prevent overheating, the moving floor display is equipped with ventilation control that keeps it at a constant 21°C. According to the release, GDS recently embarked on trials in a financial institution, with parallel trials in shopping malls. Remote-management software allows administrators to update the displays with promotions and special offers instantly."

Read the article here.

Hilton Hotels Roll Out ONESTOP Digital Signage Network

From aka.tv:

"Following the September launch of ONESTOP Toronto, Canadian out-of-home media operator Fourth Wall Media (4WM) is now preparing to roll out a second major network, serving Hilton hotels.

The company has already helped modernize the Hilton brand through animated email campaigns, Web design, digital signage and touchscreen kiosk applications.


The ONESTOP Hilton pilot project began in two of the hotel chain’s busiest locations: Hilton Toronto and Hilton Toronto Airport. Forty-inch Samsung LCD screens were placed in lobby and conference areas during the pilot phase, which ran from September to December 2004.

You can read the whole article here.

Two VCs Invest In SignStorey

Reported by aka.tv, but it looks like a press release, so you might see it elsewhere:

"Following the revelation last week of its involvement in a new in-store [television] network for supermarket giant Albertson's, retail-network operator SignStorey has attracted investment from two U.S. private-equity firms.

Details of the financial package involving the company and its joint investors – San Francisco-based Golden Gate Capital, and Texas-based CIC Partners – were not disclosed."

(surprise, surprise)

"Virginia Cargill, SignStorey's president CEO, said that the new investment would enable the company to 'further accelerate its plans and deliver new innovative services to current customers', as well as to expand its reach into additional retail chains."

You can read the entire article here.