Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More green goodness on tap for digital signage and store experience design

If you search the digital technology news for the word “sustainable,” more often than not, writers are talking about the long term viability of their companies rather than environmental practices. And then if you search for “environment,” most of the discussion centers on creating one that’s optimal for sales. But after my research on sustainable ecological practices, it’s surprising how much energy-saving technology was in development or use that isn’t being promoted as well as it could be. Given the fact that there’s a core of advertising and design at the heart of the industry, I’m amazed people are not selling their environmental practices a bit more.  Just to further the cause, here’s some quick examples to highlight folks who are pushing for green in the digital signage industry (this follows from our first discussion of green tech for digital signage back in May):

One: In a further move towards establishing the company as a model of sustainable energy use, Wal-Mart’s director of in-store media technology Mike Hiatt recently talked about sustainability in his presentation at the recent Digital Signage Expo. Citing data from their partnership with PRN, Hiatt suggested that Wal-Mart could save up to four million dollars if the in-store media went from plasma to LCD panels. If the superstore is leading the way, perhaps others will follow.

Two: Last week in the world of interactive kiosk news, there's this bit:

Earthpure Organics showcased its 100 percent organic, EnergyStar compliant vending kiosk at the Idaho Green Expo recently. Earthpure Organics is a U.S. vending company that offers organic snacks and beverages that are carbon offset with EPA/BEF wind power green tags.
Wouldn't you like to know more about what that means? The kiosk features reduced energy use, but it's nicely designed, too, and has the added fun of being "green" on the inside, too!

Three: Fujitsu, a powerhouse in advanced computer systems of all sorts, has long been concerned with reducing power consumption, particularly in designing processors with more efficient energy systems. According to Retail Customer Experience, Fujitsu and its partner Nivis also recently showcased a technology that is both functional and energy conserving. They displayed:
Electronic ink based signs, small black-and-white price displays that truly look like paper signs. The technology comes from Bridgestone, and uses mesh networking to disseminate information from one sign to another…these signs are "stateless," meaning that once they display an image, they no longer require power to maintain that image. The result is a scalable network of digital pricing displays, all remotely managed, with a battery life of about five years.
Four: Another area that should be of growing importance to the digital signage industry is the overall ecological practice of the company itself. While improving the energy used in producing and using digital technology is extremely important, companies should be looking around their own offices for ways to bring down costs and make a sustainable work environment. US and UK based companies are not the only ones to have taken this on. In India, The Economic Times notes that some digital companies are publicizing their in-house “green” initiatives. For example:
Wipro has developed a framework for ecological sustainability that has five themes and seven goals identified for implementation. The five themes include being an ecological surplus organisation, larger sustainability initatives beyond Wipro, profitable investments, transparent reporting, risk planning and mitigation.
Called “Eco Eye,” the plan includes reduced water use, measures for carbon neutrality, company-wide recycling, and employee incentive programs. Companies like Wipro are beginning to advertise these programs more, in an effort to woo both customers and employees.

I'm not usually one for hype, but here's an opportunity to sell something that already exists in the industry. And, well, as we all know, if Wal-Mart is already there, many others are sure to follow.


Anonymous said...

I've often thought there could be a "green" aspect to DS. For example, if a grocery chain were to use screens thoughout the store to replace much of the printed materials they currently use, wouldn't that save a lot of energy used in printing, packaging and shipping?

Bill Gerba said...

I've been trying to put together a study like that for a while, but as you might guess it's hard to get the necessary buy-in from the printers currently making all of those posters.