Changes in the Digital Signage World

Digital Signage is an important part of the display industry with many installations around the world. One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about digital signage is large screens. Actually the bigger the better. And yes, these displays still exist and boast not only high brightness but also longer run times for 24/7 operation in high demanding applications. There are some displays with super high brightness for outdoor installations and some with touch input for interactive applications.

From the display industry perspective this market segment was a small but profitable one that had only to fear competition from better and better consumer TV models. This was especially true for very small installations where direct cabling of one or two display screens was all that was required. Larger installations were driven by fixed or wireless networking and the need for more capable and therefore more complex software.

With complex systems being the norm for larger installations, the digital signage networks required the co-operation of many suppliers. In recent years the larger display suppliers offered more integrated packages that not only included the display but also the player, network and back end software. This trend is expected to develop more and more, creating more full service providers.

At the DPAA and CEW this year, the display as the carrier of the information has become just a part of the solution, rather than the star it was in recent years. Yes, there were still some kiosk makers and printer manufacturers at the show, but over all the mix of exhibitors has shifted more and more to a mix of all required technologies. This includes lots of data mining and analytics solutions.

The display itself has become a necessity and something that is expected to be there. There were no display centric exhibitors at CEW and Samsung was the somewhat lost display maker at DPAA.

There were two 3D autostereoscopic displays shown, one at each show. In one case the 3D display was used as an eye catcher and in the other, the operator pitched his 3D display network. Other than that, new display technology was basically absent from both events. There was no 4K display or extended color gamut display anywhere. This was not only true for the show floor, but also for the conference sessions. Display technology just exists, it does not drive any form of advertising. When I asked participants and exhibitors when they will be using 4K displays, most just gazed at me, while the few knowing what I was talking about shrugged their shoulders.

As a point of view, technology for them is the use of web based software to better reach their audience. Push notifications, apps and beacons are the technology they pursue, displays not so much. Don’t forget, both shows focus on digital advertising, a market segment that is ultimately display based.

This also brings up another important point for digital signage. The shift within the industry is based on a strong push towards mobile devices. Here the display is actually owned by the consumer, no need for new display installations. This is BYOD in the extreme form. With the increasing importance of mobile displays for the advertising industry, interest in current and new display technology will be minimal at best. From a display industry perspective, digital signage is a decreasing market. Some of the advertising industry forecasts call for no market growth in traditional advertising segments, and all growth coming from digital networks that are heavily leaning toeards mobile advertising. This is certainly not a stellar outlook for the display industry from the perspective of the ad agencies and advertisers. Once again it’s the mobile segment which seems to carry the hopes of the display industry.

For a more positive view of the display industry in digital signage we will have to wait for InfoComm 2015 in Orlando, FL.

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About the Author: Norbert Hilldebrand

Norbert Hildebrand focuses on new materials and technologies influencing the consumer electronics markets and their effect on the display industry. Mr. Hildebrand has 22 years of R+D, production and business development experience in European and North American industries. He was contributing to North American high tech markets such as FED, microdisplay, biotech, semiconductor, fire resistant glazing and anti-ballistic glazing industries. His areas of focus include wearable, display materials (especially glass-based) and mobile products. He has done many of the forecast analyses for Insight Media’s multi-client and custom market forecast reports and is very strong in this area.