"User interfaces for interactive digital displays, including touch, multitouch and gesture, are becoming more common. What are the best applications and under what circumstances should they be considered? What impact do you expect these interfaces to have on the future and definition of digital signage? And, what new types of interactive technologies do you predict will soon be available?"
The opportunity to deliver a compelling user experience through the use of touch, multitouch and gesture user interfaces establishes a persuasive c
Interactive digital should be considered in any application in which the user is drawn into the process either for personal need or marketing data-
Many digital signage applications lend themselves to interactivity with those falling into the general category of wayfinding being some of the bes
What user interfaces are becoming commonplace media for digital signage?
Many digital displays are becoming interactive, and that makes perfect sense within specific applications.
The best application of user interfaces for digital signage fulfill a user/consumer need; details while making a purchase decision, bearings and di
We all can agree that interactive opportunities are becoming more common in our daily lives.
I'm unconvinced about interactive public touch displays due to their inability to process more than one user at a time (I'm also a germaphobe).
In my industry, the convergence of gaming and gamers brings a wide range of opportunities for multitouch devices such as interactive control of sin
I feel gestures can be used in any application, but mostly for viewing and scrolling through content (i.e. pictures).
From a QRS perspective, interactive digital displays are intriguing but not the top priority.
Interactive digital, once unusual, is now becoming quite commonplace, and will have a growing presence wherever marketers try to connect with child
Call me a slow adopter, but until November I was still using an old BlackBerry and hadn't yet graduated to a truly smart device.
Let me start by saying I am definitely not an expert in interactive digital displays, but I have been doing my fair share of research.
The key to any good interactive experience is to make certain its purpose is clear, intuitive and a value to the user.
We have found that the best application of an interactive interface, whether it is touch, multi-touch, or gesture-based, is a wayfinding applicatio
In my experience working in a large convention center, interactive displays make a lot of sense for wayfinding.
Interactive digital displays should be considered in any environment where the installation results in an increase in the amount of useful informat
By adding levels of interactivity, the value of digital signage to the consumer, as well as the brand, will continue to rise.
As media strategy specialists, we don't often get involved in the design of the interface of a deployment and the best practices for when it is app
The best applications for interactive digital displays that include touch, multitouch and gesture are ones that possess the following three qualiti
Advances in human/computer interface over the last decade or so have been nothing short of remarkable.
I remember the scene in "Minority Report" where Tom Cruise just had his eyeballs replaced and he was soon stumbling thru a shopping mall.
Interactive technologies provide a unique way to engage the consumer.
Interactivity is the ultimate engagement with a brand — short of purchasing and using it (!).
Interactive is all about engagement. Any scenario in which you are trying to engage consumers is most likely appropriate for interactive signage.
In one sense, I think that we are still looking for how to use these technologies in ways that make a difference.
There is no best and there is no worse application for interactive technology. Everything depends on specific circumstances.
Near Field Communications (NFC) will rapidly emerge as a leading interface for e-wallet and electronic payment applications.
Just watching my teenage boys daily shows me how common interactive tools have become, and how hungry certain demographics are to use them.
As with any other technological advances, interactive digital displays should be used when it is appropriate.
There is an expectation that digital displays should be entertaining, fun and engaging.
The most important factor to consider with interactive advertising is that it initiates a true one-to-one marketing experience, and you, as the net
With the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablet devices, the user expectation of interactive digital devices is becoming more and more prevalent
Interactive digital displays are becoming more common, but I continue to feel that these displays are expensive for the amount of people they actua
As for interactivity on screens, it's an issue we talk about often. Our challenge is that our medium is essentially a one-to-many medium.
Touch and gesture are great features and one of the major differentiators of digital signage versus other platforms.
The most effective interactive digital displays must truly serve their purpose within their chosen environment.
This one is really out of our realm of expertise, as we haven't had the need for it.
Any display that can be touched should be considered for an interactive application.
If your strategic goals are to build sales through promotional pricing or display news feeds to mitigate wait time, then interactivity might not be
It's interesting to see the growth of interactivity over the past few years.
One of the reasons you see touch-based implementations of signage at a much smaller scale than non-touch (besides cost and purpose) is that often o
The opportunity to deliver a compelling user experience through the use of touch, multitouch and gesture user interfaces establishes a persuasive case for implementing these new technologies as part of our member experience. Servus has been toying with the different concepts and notions for some time now, trying to determine what will work with our members and what won't. To an end user such as Servus, interactive technologies are synonymous with digital signage. We do not differentiate in our strategy, rather simply expand on it to include the definition of an experience delivered through digital signage and what is delivered through touch and gesture technologies. As a financial services company, the explosion of technology delivering communication and low-cost transactional options to our members is not something new to us. The ATM created a similar situation when it became table stakes for financial institutions. To us the opportunity present in these new user experiences is equal, and in some cases, we are already seeing adoption of this technology into existing delivery channels such as ATMs. We have done a great amount of work around different use cases, things that could be easily integrated into our branch that would work well for our members.
Financial literacy through touch and multitouch devices is one of the areas we have been exploring. One of the greatest challenges that financial services companies face is being able to educate their members on all the different services that we offer and how they can relate to the overall financial health of the member. Wallet share is more than just a phrase we use to describe part of our growth strategy, for us it is about explaining the true benefit of being a member of a credit union. The more business you do with us, the more we can offer to assist you with your financial well-being. Technology is an excellent tool for delivering that type of message because it provides user interfaces that can be self-paced, or automated to drive the user through the experience. It is also more interactive and thus allows for more involvement — which in turn increases the odds of the user remembering the information presented to them and applying it in the future.
We use digital signage in a very similar way, to address open-ended questions that come up from a member viewing our signage content. When that open-ended question comes up it provides our member service representatives with an excellent opportunity to drive home our service differentiator, by being willing to spend more time with the member to help them find the answers they are looking for. An interactive experience that would provide the same opportunity is a very compelling case to us for implementing a new technology.
Similar to financial literacy is the issue of personal financial management tools. PFM is a buzz-worthy acronym in the financial sector today, but the focus to date has been on how to deliver this outside of the branch experience. By providing the member with a set of tools through online banking, public website or other means, the financial institution can educate the member on their products and services in a way that is controlled by the member, they feel as if they are driving the experience, and as such dictating how much information they are fed. In today's world of having information at our fingertips it is important to make the member feel as if they are in control and that they have the means to research and come to decisions on their own. Members are more educated than ever before, as most members research online before entering our branch. In many cases they already know what they want before they step through our doors, but there is still a role for financial advisors and what they deliver to the members. By providing them a set of tools in the branch that they can use in their dealings, or that members can use on their own while in the branch, we can use the technology to expand on the message and create opportunity to deepen the relationship. This is part of the new definition, in my opinion, of digital signage — it bridges the real world experience and the online experience.
In the end, the best application and circumstance for considering adopting touch and gesture technologies are when there is business value beyond just the experience. Whether it is adding a new low-cost transaction channel, or providing opportunity to deepen the relationship and increase wallet share if there is value in it beyond being an early adopter or being on the "cutting edge," then it makes sense to start to incorporate it in your organization. In the future, touch and gesture technologies will be an interwoven part of the experience, whether it is within a controlled environment such as a branch, or outside an owned property such as with a personal mobile device or its equivalent. The integration and cohesive experience across different delivery channels will provide new opportunities to further define digital signage and how it is delivered through new emerging technologies. The rapid growth of devices supporting touch and gesture technology is going to continue to evolve and grow, and we have to consider how this is going to become part of the digital signage definition and how it fits into the strategy and execution going forward, as it should be part of the overall digital signage solution today.
Interactive digital should be considered in any application in which the user is drawn into the process either for personal need or marketing data-gathering. Wayfinding is a type of personal need and brochure selection can be used to gather marketing data when coupled with NFC (Near Field Communication).
So long as the screen can be vandalized there will be some limitation to the locations where these displays can be placed. Once that issue can be overcome I believe there will be an ever-expanding future for interactive digital displays.
New interactive technologies will enable music and/or book downloads by placing your smartphone next to the screen, just as the Samsung Galaxy does today on print posters in airport lobbies. From that point it is easy to envision jukebox type applications permitting browsing catalogs of music and books.
Many digital signage applications lend themselves to interactivity with those falling into the general category of wayfinding being some of the best examples. Even with the near-ubiquitous reach of the Internet and digital information, we still exist in and interact with a physical world.
The best places for interactive wayfinding are those where a large proportion of those utilizing the space are transient and not intimately familiar with the physical layout and programming of their surroundings that also may have pragmatic limitations on the amount or effectiveness of traditional or non-interactive digital signage. A good example of this would be an interactive building and event directory located in the lobby of a large multi-use multi-tenant public or office building with a high volume of traffic coming from visitors — people who neither work nor live there. Visitors needing to find a particular person, office or service within the building would benefit from an interactive search. Such a system can be seen in the lobby of the ultra-modern and highly automated Nakatomi Plaza that served as a backdrop and supported the plotline of the 1988 blockbuster movie Die Hard.
Also a factor in whether an application is appropriate for interactive digital signage is any finite capacity or pragmatic limitations on non-interactive forms of traditional or non-interactive digital signage. In extremely large office buildings it may not be practical to list every tenant on a single display or even 10 displays placed in the lobby. Likewise, placing signage closer to the destinations and foregoing signage in the lobby wouldn't be effective either because visitors would be required to navigate the critical initial steps without assistance.
A well-planned digital signage deployment will likely feature several types of signage such as interactive company directory in a building's lobby intended to guide visitors to a particular floor and then more localized non-interactive signage on each floor to provide more specific navigation.
In regards to the future of digital signage, I think expectations will rise across the board for increased quantities and capabilities. Interactive digital signage may soon become an expectation rather than a glitzy afterthought. In higher education this may put increased pressure on institutions such as mine to develop dynamic and interactive building and campus directory services which for many campuses isn't a problem but on a campus as large and as decentralized as ours, simply tapping into a single central room management system isn't all that practical.
In regards to how digital signage is defined, I consider myself to be a newcomer to the field having only been thrown into the deep end about five years ago. That and having approached digital signage from an information technology point of view makes me think that all this is just a part of the deal. Digital signage is a complex beast. One application here in higher education I do see as blurring lines is the concept of multi-purpose spaces — informal learning spaces — collaboration spaces or whatever we chose to call them now or in the future. Interactive or not. The idea that digital signage can instantly become a tool that directly supports teaching and learning is a bit of a curveball. In some circumstances this curveball will be a functional requirement. We have run into this already on our campus and as we move forward, we will need to address this issue and become better able to accommodate multiple needs in our designs … some that may be only a shadow in the mist to us right now.
How we interact with technology is changing rapidly and fundamentally.
On the hardware side of the equation, we have long had devices such as mice, keyboards and trackballs but it has been the touchscreen (in its various forms) that are typically associated with state of the art interactive digital signage applications. But that may not be the case for much longer because when it comes down to it, when touchscreens are put under the microscope, they are quite awkward and for the first time in a very long time, it appears that viable alternatives are or may become available that better meet the needs of interactive digital signage applications.
New technologies such as those used in the Microsoft Kinect offers alternatives to the traditional touchscreen interface. Utilizing multiple cameras and microphones, the Kinect provides no-touch control for the Microsoft Xbox 360 gaming console and Windows-based computers through gestures and voice input. This type of sophisticated hardware is capable of accepting input from multiple users simultaneously as well as facial recognition with the proper software.
Another potential game-changing technology is the Leap Motion (yet to be released) which takes some of the same concepts utilized by the Microsoft Kinect and focuses on hand gestures rather than full body gestures by scaling it down and making it more accurate. The goal is to provide precision multi-point control without having to "touch" a screen of any sort.
With these new technologies, the same simple "swipe and point" gestures utilized on tablets and some laptop/desktop operating systems will carry over to our digital signage making them simple and intuitive to use and since they are not predicated on actually "touching" the screen it will provide much more flexibility in both our physical designs and our content/interface designs. And with the retail price of both the Microsoft Kinect and Leap Motion being less than $100, they certainly will allow far more flexibility in terms of cost.
If all other factors come to fruition, the final incentive of drastically reduced hardware costs may open a veritable floodgate of opportunity in our near future. And who knows, and perhaps 10 years from now those new to our ranks will come with the assumption that digital signage is interactive because that is all they will have ever known and the only reason why it wouldn't be interactive is because someone had "turned it off." I certainly hope that is the case because that fundamental shift in perspective will have meant that we have done our part to move the industry forward and help those we serve not only to understand, but to leverage the technologies that we take pride in calling our own.
What user interfaces are becoming commonplace media for digital signage? When did our society make the real transition to the digital age in the first place? It finally hit me when I was working at the newly created Conference Center watching the clients going to and from the rooms and a heavy percentage would stop and touch the room signs screens looking for more information. It was almost comical … We have programmed ourselves to be a "touch" society. Most media with which we all familiar (i.e. LCD screens, ATMs, LED boards, touch devices, car screens, computers, and basically every phone, etc.). But how does it play into your day-to-day experiences? Are they beneficial or a hindrance? The deployment must be a product of design and planning. The user interface is the continually changing medium. What you designed three years ago, I bet, is still valid, but your output devices have changed or have become larger or you have added more of them. To the casual digital signage user, any display or board will work to send the message. For two-way interaction, some form of touch will always be in effect. The technology that everyone has been drooling over is the larger multi-touch tablets. What an easy way to keep the masses informed and entertained. Talk about a neat way to get the message across and enable it to be used in lobbies, waiting rooms, or soon on the walls.
I like to look back from where we have come before moving forward. I always worry about the non-tech generation and the inability for people to operate a basic TV remote. How does one overcome the simplified user requirements to these people, as well as satisfy the needs of an advanced user. Do we ignore them until they die off? There are a lot of pennies still to be gained from a basic interface. Next time you are in Southern California and in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive, look at the shops and watch how digital signage is used. The interface is really basic, maybe large and gaudy, and any "touch" interface requirements always has a representative available, ready to assist.
I think I have raised more questions than answers, but this topic is a complicated one, with a one-to-many, many relationship. I don't have a crystal ball to tell the future. Any interfaces can be made to work with the same design you have had over the years. As we get older, we just need a face-lift, not a complete overhaul.
Until next month, still driving my non-computerized vehicle. As long as it starts and gets the message across, I will drive it … it gets me where I want to go!
Many digital displays are becoming interactive, and that makes perfect sense within specific applications. For those that are becoming more interactive, touchscreens seem to be the user interface of choice at this time. While gesture-controlled UIs are emerging even further in the market, most users do not yet know how to react to them, much less understand how to use them yet. They certainly possess a certain "cool factor," but the public may not be quite ready. Gesture-based UIs do serve a valuable purpose in my opinion, where the display is simply not physically accessible to the user — Perhaps for large-format displays or outdoor application where weather could affect traditional touchscreens. Otherwise, I'm not sure why we would put a user through the ordeal of having to figure out how to use it unless the gesturing was a more immersive part of the experience than just controlling screen navigation. While gesture-based controls may now be capable of picking up and translating very specific and detailed movements, there are very few clear common movements that people inherently know. Touchscreens, on the other hand, have become ubiquitous in our culture with our phones, tablets, kiosks, PCs and even fuel pumps using them. The form factor is simple and people are accustomed to it. Multitouch screens are gaining ground too as they allow multiple people to participate at the same time, and we have been integrating more and more of these into our parks and attractions recently as wonderful interactive additions to our traditional rides and shows.
As for the impact of these interfaces to the future of digital signage, I'm sure we will continue to see innovation and improvement in the methods in which people interact with digital signage. I would like to see that interactivity begin to go beyond the digital sign itself and integrate with personal devices such as smartphones.
The best application of user interfaces for digital signage fulfill a user/consumer need; details while making a purchase decision, bearings and directional help and on-demand information, are all good starting points that should be considered based on the desired user experience.
I expect the impact of user interfaces for interactive digital displays will create more convergence between media and raw information. Advertising as content is already happening online with creative digital video, social media is already becoming advertising and a news source, and smartphones are already merging with digital displays. Marketers continue to fuel the cycle by feeding in real-time behavior (actions, interest, purchases and other metrics) to their message delivery mechanisms and continue to push into the digital signage arena with camera-enabled systems and recognition software. The lines continue to blur, but interactive digital displays will play a key role in accelerating this convergence. The future will soon bring full realization of technology to the marketing process.
Imagine if software starts recognizing brand elements (purse, shirt, shoes, etc.) within a crowd and tailors messages based on demonstrated brand affinity?! What if NFC allows coupon downloads that you can share, allowing discounts credited to the source user? Imagine the opportunity and excitement for user-generated content to be incorporated into digital displays in near real time, or displayed upon a user's return to the display. Imagine helping patrons with an informational network; offering a "wiki/glossary" of terms and items specific to the display, and a chance to take part of the experience home. What if digital signage offered a user the opportunity to bypass lines by clicking yes on a smartphone to an offer; like that special cup of coffee I buy every morning? What if that preference followed me to Las Vegas at the DSE!?
We all can agree that interactive opportunities are becoming more common in our daily lives. Most of us carry some form of interactive device in our pocket, backpack or travel bag. The impact interactive technology will have on us in the future is enormous. It fits so seamlessly into our daily lives that this might be the greatest way to measure its future impact, simply by it being seamless, easy to use and naturally filling an everyday gap.
These were some of the objectives regarding a current interactive kiosk project at Mayo Clinic. After researching our patient audiences, it was concluded they were looking for the ability to access information about the Mayo Clinic campus and surrounding community to support their health and wellness decision-making. Finding the right lodging or restaurant that supports specific medical requirements, or visiting a research or education center to explore one's health and wellness were just a few of the options being offered on the kiosks.
As simple as this example is, the outcome will be great because it's what this audience wants. Individual "wants" will drive the future of digital signage. The more technology can be tailored to fit our individual wants, the more relevant the technology becomes to us. The more relevant it becomes, the more we expect it to have always been there, naturally filling the gap.
I'm unconvinced about interactive public touch displays due to their inability to process more than one user at a time (I'm also a germaphobe). Touch or gesture displays are able to give the user a unique experience but not when dissemination of quick information is needed. But as an opportunity for a stimulating, fun experience, the user would stop and interact with the gestural display. I think retail will continue to develop experiential opportunities for their shoppers. If it's a quest for information, the user would opt for the fastest way to get it which may not be the touch display. Why not have the display technology send the link to the user's smartphone so the interaction can be navigated at his or her own pace. Transit centers and hospitals, for example, would need to provide immediate information displays, downloads, maps and links for their commuters and patients.
In my industry, the convergence of gaming and gamers brings a wide range of opportunities for multitouch devices such as interactive control of single- and multiple-player games along with tablet to permanent screen control in venues like Race & Sportsbook. As an example, customers have access to a tablet in a VIP section of our Race & Sports Book that gives them control of two to four screens with the ability to choose video games, fantasy feed, broadcast programming, etc. This allows one section of players to compete against another group of players in the same environment enhancing the on-site gaming experience in real time.
I feel gestures can be used in any application, but mostly for viewing and scrolling through content (i.e. pictures). When looking at pictures, the gestures and multitouch are simple, intuitive and easy to do. I feel there will be a pricing impact as the interfaces will have to be more complex and the software that follows. The new gesture interface will also provide a more "WOW" experience. It may now be possible to put the signage behind a shopping window and still provide the ability to be interactive. I feel face and speech recognition technologies should start to emerge with digital signage. Almost like a "robot-concierge."
From a QRS perspective, interactive digital displays are intriguing but not the top priority. Deploying indoor digital menuboards is the highest priority and the development of an affordable drive-thru digital menuboard would be next.
If there were additional funds available to spend on digital technology in a restaurant, an interactive display for nutritional information would be a benefit to customers and store operators. Also, digital displays could be used to order customized products such as DQ cakes. However, self-order kiosks have not proven to help speed of service in a QSR environment, because often there are too many options and it slows down speed of service. If the kiosk were limited to one quick decision and could take payment, then there may be a benefit. But what I have seen/read, there are just too many steps and possibilities for customization.
Interactive digital displays to be used as infotainment at the tables could be fun but there are few restaurant operators that could afford this technology. If cost was not a factor, digital displays could be used for gaining helpful feedback from customers and give them fun ways to interact with the brand. For example, create your own Blizzard flavor, etc.
Interactive digital, once unusual, is now becoming quite commonplace, and will have a growing presence wherever marketers try to connect with children (3 years old to pre-teen). This consumer demographic is not intimidated by any technology, and they are more "hands-on" (literally) than any other segment. The key will be to subtly build the brand message/image without violating certain laws addressing marketing to children.
Recognizing the opportunity, the DOOH industry will likely develop even more ways to interact with many different demographic segments, saving the more sophisticated adaptations for younger demos where the technology will be more readily accepted and appreciated.
Call me a slow adopter, but until November I was still using an old BlackBerry and hadn't yet graduated to a truly smart device. Now that I'm using, and rapidly learning about my iPhone 5, my eyes are more open to what technology can be expected to do. OK, it's obvious — yes, people will expect more and more interactivity between their devices and digital displays, but the question is: Are we ready to provide this yet?
Have you seen the commercial where you simply touch the back of your phone (not iPhone — yet) and you can fairly quickly trade a song list or something similar? Can you imagine how a customer in a store could perhaps scan an image or just be in proximity of a sign and bring info about a product into their device and walk away with it? Perhaps with the right interface app on your device you could force the display to work for you without actually touching the display itself.
I've been very impressed with Google's new voice recognition in their latest search app. While Siri is struggling to comprehend, Google's gal gets nearly every word I speak, even in noisy environments like New York City. Now I begin to imagine how I can speak to displays through my phone to search for information not already in my phone.
Could I also share information about me into the system behind the display so it would offer up things that I would be particularly interested in? So now I walk into an outdoor store and allow my device to interface, and the display knows I like to hike, camp, and kayak so it offers me specials or deals on appropriate merchandise to fit my desires. The same could be used in a grocery store and between offers and a map I download into my device, I'm on my way to the delicious new recipe idea and I even know the correct aisle and I'll save money with my coupon the app downloaded before checkout.
How cool is this future we're all dreaming about?
Let me start by saying I am definitely not an expert in interactive digital displays, but I have been doing my fair share of research. I think that in most retail, education or other venues where people are likely to stop to get information you can find a use for interactive signage. The key is to make sure your display is effective. Once you determine the use for your interactive display and what kind of content you are hoping to include there are plenty of people out there that can tell you the best size and how many you will need. I know that what I thought I wanted and what will probably work best in a retail environment like ours were not the same. Keep in mind if your display is large, the message needs to be key to all (one person driving the display and many watching). If it's a big decision tree format that will probably work best on a small screen that is more "personal." The key is to improve the customer experience for all (or at least most), not just one.
I believe that interactive digital signage is the way of the future; people walk up and touch screens that are 32 inches and smaller and are placed at the right height all the time expecting them to be interactive. I also believe that these signs make great tools for your employees to walk people through complicated sales, products with a multiple of options or anything else where a picture or other visual provides explanation.
The key to any good interactive experience is to make certain its purpose is clear, intuitive and a value to the user. It's a real challenge for today's retailer to create such an experience while maintaining a sustainable business case.
Interactive digital displays have been around for many years. Cash machines and airport check-in kiosks are a couple of early examples that lead the way and continue to thrive today. Each shares a common bond that helped move it out of the imagination lab and into mass adoption, i.e., they offered a better way for the business owner and the customer to accomplish something.
I'm not sure where the name originated, but techno-stress is even more of a barrier to the adoption of publicly placed interactive displays than it is too many consumer devices. Even in the privacy of the home, something as simple as a new TV remote is a real pain for most people. Staring down new a multi-layered interactive experience, while standing in the middle of a public venue, can be exponentially more frustrating. Learning how to interact, while trying to digest the content, is a challenge that the designer can't take lightly.
Today's user expects to interact with public touch and multi-touch technologies in the same way they do with their personal devices. I've watched many customers treat an older kiosk like the latest smartphone or tablet — pinching, swiping and dragging their way to frustrated and eventually angry.
Will larger screens with improved interfaces and touch technologies similar to today's gadgets help the customer to explore the endless isle with excitement and anticipation, or are we somewhere between stamp dispensing ATMs and the creation of the ultimate mobile app? Maybe we're one great idea from both.
We have found that the best application of an interactive interface, whether it is touch, multi-touch, or gesture-based, is a wayfinding application. "Where is this room?" and "How do I get there?" are our most frequent questions asked of our staff, followed by "Where can I find a restaurant/coffee shop?"
With RFID, and NFC, the future will see a much higher personalization of content and targeted user interaction. I can see something like virtual reality working in combination with smartphones, creating an even more in-depth level of interactivity, where data/advertising/targeted content can flow between digital signs and handheld devices. Windows 8 has raised the level of interactivity as well, and with integration using a Kinect system, I can see us in the near future creating/using a 'Minority Report'-style system where you can move objects in the 'air' with just gestures and no devices, as we saw in last year's DSE keynote presentation.
In my experience working in a large convention center, interactive displays make a lot of sense for wayfinding. We have more than 70 unique spaces in the center, with occupants and sessions' changing on a daily/hourly basis, so the only way to get all this dynamic information to users is through database-linked touchscreens. Once there, it is too much information to display all of it on one screen, so an interactive display gives the user the ability to search through and select the information they need.
You also see a lot of interactive displays at automated checkouts and other self-serve applications, but my impression is that many of these have a ways to go in improving their user experience. With the explosion of smartphones and tablets, users have high expectations of interfaces and devices, they know what a good interaction should feel like and will abandon anything that falls short.
One important thing to keep in mind is that a "passive" digital sign can be seen, and thus "used," by everyone within viewing distance. With touchscreens, the user is right up to the screen and interacting with it, which means other potential users aren't. It's generally a one-on-one and one-at-a-time experience, and others might not want to wait around for their turn.
As for their future impact, I would say it really hinges on technology. Will larger, multi-touch interfaces become more cost effective? Will the user experience continue to improve? Or perhaps smartphones will become the de facto means of interfacing with screens, and a new relationship will be formed between the two?
Perhaps voice recognition will finally become more effective and see more widespread use.
The future of interaction is constantly evolving, and I look forward to exploring the DSE 2013 Exhibition Hall and seeing all the new technologies.
Interactive digital displays should be considered in any environment where the installation results in an increase in the amount of useful information actually delivered to the user. In a transportation setting, interactive digital signs are replacing traditional static signage because interactive digital signs provide user directed access to multiple levels of information beyond just directional information commonly found on traditional static signage.
The impact of this change is significant because it improves both the quantity and quality of the information delivered to the user. With traditional static signage, facility owners were limited to provide the information the facility owner felt the user needed in a relatively limited amount of space, therefore information was usually restricted to directional in nature.
The quantity of the information increases because interactive digital displays can provide many more elements beyond the required directional element. These additional elements can include almost anything the facility owner wants to provide, such as: Weather, local hotel/restaurant information, community activity details, marketing messages and safety information. Of course this listing is just a limited example. The quality of the information can also be significantly improved. For example, a static map on a duratran can be replaced with a 3-D rendered scalable map that includes walking path identification, while excluding all the data "noise" that can be selected out by the user. All of this information usually has to be included on a static sign, because the static sign has to provide information that ALL users of the facility may need. An interactive digital display allows the user to select the only information that they need at that given point in time. The information on an interactive digital display can also be updated in real time, to make sure the user is receiving the most currently relevant information available. Also, while multiple languages can be displayed on a static sign, it is usually limited by space reasons to two languages. In an international transportation setting this just isn't sufficient. An interactive digital display can provide the level of language support that the facility operator wants to provide to its users. As with the other elements of an interactive digital display, the language can be selected by the user and as a result eliminating the confusing combination of different languages on screen at the same time.
The common element in an interactive digital display is that the user ultimately decides the information provided on-site while they are engaged in using the display. As a result, interactive digital signage will continue to change, and hopefully improve, the relationship between the user and facility operator.
By adding levels of interactivity, the value of digital signage to the consumer, as well as the brand, will continue to rise. Engaging the consumers moves digital signage from a one-way or push medium to a two-way dialogue medium. Along with integration of mobile device capabilities, interactivity has the biggest impact on the digital signage industry. Consumers' expectations will be for digital signage interactions to mirror the types of interactions they have with personal touchscreen devices such as mobile phones and tablets. This will continue to push the need for relevant content that is intuitive. Consumers will expect to gain information or be entertained in a highly customized way. Personalization will be a continued trend as cloud computing blurs the lines of digital signage and mobile devices. Users will expect access to their specific preferences, accounts, photos, etc., at any given point. I truly can't imagine an industry that will be unchanged in the way they communicate.
As media strategy specialists, we don't often get involved in the design of the interface of a deployment and the best practices for when it is appropriate to use various interface types. We do, however, more often not, have very lofty ideas creatively that require more advanced interface capabilities. This is especially true as more and more personal computing and mobile devices integrate multi-touch capabilities into their screens.
Users are beginning to expect certain movements and interface interactions to be ubiquitous across all interactive screens. A great example of this is a colleague of mine who was on a commercial airplane that had an interactive screen on a headrest. That screen only had limited touch interface capabilities; however, that didn't stop a younger passenger in front of my colleague from continuously trying to use the "swipe" multi-touch interface gesture to attempt to zoom in on the screen. In my opinion, as these very specific gestures become more ubiquitous in consumer electronics, digital signage will need to stay current with the capabilities of their screens.
I think the technology closest to commercial scale in this space involve more sensitive and accurate frequency scanning to enhance and expand the types of interaction possible with a screen. For instance, the ability to sense and respond accurately to two or more different interactive actions taking place on the same screen.
Lucas Peltonen, OOH Pitch (for Dave Matera)
The best applications for interactive digital displays that include touch, multitouch and gesture are ones that possess the following three qualities:
1) Easily accessible positioning: It may seem elementary, but consumers must be able to walk up and touch the screen without having to bend over or jump up, etc.
2) Ease of Use: It can't take more than a second or so for the consumer to determine how to interact with the signage or he or she will lose interest and decide not to engage. This quality is determined more by the creative functionality than the signage itself, but it is still quite important.
3) Value to Consumer: These executions must possess not only the possibility for interactivity, but they also must also offer the user something of value — whether it is simply fun, distraction, challenge, sweepstakes, contests or coupons.
It is our assertion that interactive digital displays should be used much more widely. We actively seek networks and executions that have interactive components; therefore, the question shouldn't be whether or not interactivity should be used, the question should be how to implement the interactivity.
While the increased implementation of these interfaces won't exactly revolutionize the future and definition of digital signage, they will become more commonplace, reliable, creative and interesting. Interactivity combined with improved 3-D and/or hologram technology and a myriad other possibilities will create fascinating opportunities to keep interactive digital signage fresh and vital to advertisers' plans.
We believe that in the future the vast majority of digital signage will be interactive in some way — whether it is through touch or gesture or mobile technologies. The possibilities of such signage to engage will be 1) necessary for digital signage to compete with other media such as mobile and online and 2) another powerful way to prolong communication between brands and consumers.
Finally, while we are not fortune-tellers, we do believe that interactive signage will somehow be able to read the demographic profile of the person interacting with the sign. As such, the signage will deliver interactive experiences specially tailored to the user. This ability will make the advertising and interactivity more personalized and relevant and therefore more effective.
Advances in human/computer interface over the last decade or so have been nothing short of remarkable. One could argue that Apple introduced touch/multitouch to the mainstream world with the original iPhone in 2007. A few short years later, an entire generation expects touch to be the norm. Everyone has a story on this. Mine is from a 2010 trip to France during which we visited Versailles. There's a room outfitted with a few iMac computers, creating a very interesting interactive exhibit. I watched a young girl, maybe 10 years old, walk into the room and study the screens. Within a few seconds she was at one of the computers, ignoring the keyboard and trackball on the desk in front of her, and instead touching the iMac screen in an attempt to interact with the machine. Of course, the computer was not touch-enabled, so it did not respond to her. She continued to tap away on the screen to no effect, and after maybe 20 seconds, she stomped away thinking the thing was broken. For her, and an entire generation, it was touch or nothing.
Touch, gesture and voice control are the beginning of a revolution in how people interact with computers and digital screens. And it is remarkable how quickly certain technologies move from novelty to expectation. It happens almost overnight. Similarly, people are increasingly expecting that their mobile phones are the portal to more information on EVERYTHING — including content and advertising on digital signage.
The key to unlocking all of this is understanding the current context of the user. Are they waiting in line for their coffee and watching your (almost) ceiling-mounted screen? If so, touch is clearly out, and both voice and gesture are long shots. But mobile interaction leveraging any of those technologies may be possible. On the other hand, someone at a bus stop with a digital screen may be able to engage via any of those interfaces. Networks/ operators — and brands that advertise there — must understand the user context and what they are willing to engage with in order to build compelling experiences.
I remember the scene in "Minority Report" where Tom Cruise just had his eyeballs replaced and he was soon stumbling thru a shopping mall. He walked by a billboard and the billboard responded to him, "Good morning Mr. Takamoto, we have those shoes that you ordered ..."
That was a snapshot of the future, and the digital sign of the future recognized a specific customer, and attempted to interact! Today, (interaction and) identification will be via Near Field Communications and most likely RFID, NOT an eyeball scan. The field of NFC is in its infancy, and I predict MANY new technologies, products and uses will emerge in the next few years. Facial recognition is not that far off either, but it doesn't put a premium on eyeballs.
Instances of interactivity are best suited for 'one on one' interactions with an audience. Retail shopping (and customer interaction) 'will be' the most common instance for one digital signage interactivity. Wayfinding will be another. The merger of digital signage with other 'adjacent technologies' will add new applications for the use of digital signage.
As digital signs replace "static displays" I see new instances of digital signs that leverage interactivity. In museums and art galleries (as well as in retail), a patron/customer could search for and look up additional information, using touchscreens (menus, multitouch or gestures). In these 'one on one' applications, most (if not all,) digital signs will have touchscreens. Tablets will be used as interactive touch screens in many applications. The tablet is leveraged as an I/O device as well as a display. I predict both standalone tablet applications, as well as tablets and large panels paired up. In some instances I see "multiple tablets" interacting with one screen, and opening up the door for Multi-user Interactive Digital Signage (MIDS), similar to multiuser computer games.
Here is another technology that provides gestural interactivity. In some instances of digital signage, lack of proximity could cause a problem for 'one on one' interactivity. The placement of a digital camera (a la Microsoft Kinect) and the use of gestures can solve that issue! The camera and appropriate software could also add recognition, but not just facial, e.g. is the person male or female, young or old, short or tall, hot or cold (via IR), or even if a haircut needed!
Interactivity is a logical extension to digital signs, BUT interactivity is best suited when a 'One on One' interaction can be leveraged. Signage requires the full attention of ones' eyeballs (and brain). It brings the human target and the sign closer together. This will be a growth channel for digital signs, but remember, the great value of a digital sign is that a single sign, when properly placed can address a very large audience (one to many ...). One key to success will always be, 'how to increase and maintain sustained signage viewing' with or without interactivity!
Interactive technologies provide a unique way to engage the consumer. By drawing them into an interactive experience, we can combine advertising and product/service information with entertainment and non-offering related information in a way that will increase retention. Also, we can offer a call to action right at the sign location, and that will further increase retention, and possibly sales through the sign itself. Interactive signs also demand attention, especially the more sophisticated multitouch systems. I would predict we will see a trend toward more multi-user systems such as the Microsoft Pixelsense platform that offers a 360-degree multi-user environment and the flexibility to incorporate into not only digital signage but also POS systems and sales terminals (New Balance and Finish Line are great examples of this). I would also add that in the retail space, not using the interactive display as strictly advertising, but incorporating entertainment elements (Such as Build-A-Bear's program with the Samsung SUR40 and Pixelsense from Microsoft) can increase sales lift by providing a way to add accessory sales in an engaging way. This is especially true when the target customers are children.
Interactivity is the ultimate engagement with a brand — short of purchasing and using it (!). It must therefore offer high ROI in terms of purchase intent, brand awareness and brand alignment on the part of the interact-or user and observers. It must also deliver "viral-ocity" which extends the direct interaction experience into unpaid publicity and the sharing and storytelling about the experience in order to extend the brand's promotional reach while giving it "personality."
Good applications include the introduction, acceleration or amplification of a brand message (remembering that PR and viral messaging value).
Interactivity on place-based media also offers transaction value by providing information or other benefits to an "audience of one," however it bears noting that at the moments of transaction, the digital signage becomes a devise of somewhat private interaction, diminishing its value during the interaction from its primary abilities to message to an "audience of many." The lines between messaging and interaction could be expected to become more distinct for this reason, as well as the fact that engagement objectives, calls to action and desired outcomes differ for each of messaging and interactivity.
Dynamic media also interactivity offers "the power of play." Brands have seized on what people love to do with interactive storefront windows and (the former) Reatrix illustrated this point very well. Some benefits of interactive media play include its portability and the limited amount of space that is required for the "play" area. But further, such media-based play can reduce risk and injury that are part of playground and play area experiences, even reducing the amount of supervision that may be required. Children's play areas attached to waiting areas, eateries, health facilities, community centers and schools are natural locations for gesture-based media interactivity for play and learning.
Touch and gestural interface continue to advance. Eye tracking/control and (mobile) device-to-device interactivity suggesting future viability that can enable multiple interactors simultaneously and the need of using valuable floor, wall or walkway space.
Interactive is all about engagement. Any scenario in which you are trying to engage consumers is most likely appropriate for interactive signage. My guess is that transactional is the future of interactive digital signage.
In one sense, I think that we are still looking for how to use these technologies in ways that make a difference. Otherwise, this could become an example of a technology solution in search of a problem. That said, I have seen effective use of touchscreens for informational purposes such as wayfinding in transportation, hospitals, shopping malls, etc. It also can be a worthwhile engagement strategy to draw customers in to convey additional points about a product or brand. For example, an interactive kiosk that dispenses recipes and coupons makes sense in a supermarket.
As smartphones become increasingly prevalent, I think they will diminish the value of touchscreens in digital signage networks. Smartphone users will be more inclined to want us to figure out ways that they can use their personal devices to interact with digital signage screens. The video that's on YouTube of Google's Project Glass suggests to me that it's likely that touchscreens will be yesterday's technology before anyone really figures out how to integrate them into digital signage networks in a way that makes total sense.
There is no best and there is no worse application for interactive technology. Everything depends on specific circumstances. It is not unlike buying a car. "What's the best car for me?" Until we know your requirements ... sedan vs. SUV, performance vs. fuel economy, etc. ... it is impossible to recommend "the best". Same story for interactive technology. Without knowing the specifics of your out-of-home space, your objectives and your other communication platforms and priorities, there are no "best" applications for any end user.
Honestly, most current digital communication executions fall short. Many fall way short.
But there are some success stories that share common traits. Successful executions don't use technology just for technology's sake. The technology exists for a reason and that reason is functionality. Successful executions also reflect a bias toward simplicity. They avoid the temptation to over-complicate the experience. I realize that this might sound contradictory, perhaps even heretical, but the best digital communications experiences are those that avoid overt complexity.
I am not smart enough to know what new types of interactive technologies will soon become available. I do know that there is plenty of technology available today ... be it mobile, touch, or interactive ... to create compelling, impactful digital experiences. Rather than focus on the choice of technology, it is much more important to relentlessly consider how the digital platform will enhance the audience experience. Figure that out, and the technology choice will naturally follow.
Near Field Communications (NFC) will rapidly emerge as a leading interface for e-wallet and electronic payment applications. There are many applications where various cross-channel interfaces and displays will complement each other into a single valued application. Digital signage will simply be another visual link in the communication chain. An example of this may be the virtual store implemented by Tesco in South Korean subways. The concept brings the store to the shopper instead of the other way around. In this case the shopper selects a product through a digital signage interface and scans the associated QR code. This initiates the buying process with the items being delivered at the shopper's home.
Interfaces and devices will continue to evolve. Today the smartphone is the prevalent device but I believe this will rapidly evolve into a wearable computer in the form of a 'wrist computer' where actions are triggered by NFC. As more devices evolve I believe an entire gesturing language will emerge not unlike sign language that will be used to interface with devices.
Just watching my teenage boys daily shows me how common interactive tools have become, and how hungry certain demographics are to use them. The Angry Birds Apptivity toys, which can be placed on a device to change the user experience, are one of this year's hottest holiday sellers. People clamor for personalization, and some media are perfectly suited for it. However, the primary purpose and goals of a digital signage project should always be the focus; and for some, user interactivity with the screen may be completely opposite of the primary goal. For example, 50 passengers on a train likely don't want to see one rider's tic-tac-toe game on screen, and may even get angry if the one-to-many content experience is interrupted. Redirecting a viewer to a personalized, mobile experience may be perfect for one application, but may conflict with current advertising capabilities for another. People have become smarter and pickier when it comes to devoting their attention, and possibly personal information or device storage space, to apps. If you decide to deploy some interactive capabilities, I'd suggest you identify the key stakeholders of your project (including you) — along with their goals, needs and objections. Even if you've done this initially, do it again when considering any substantive change. Then, see how any interactive elements can enhance any of those key areas for one or more of the stakeholders, without upsetting any important objections of the others.
As with any other technological advances, interactive digital displays should be used when it is appropriate. Using touchscreen when it is impractical can turn off users. Restaurant ordering menus are a perfect venue for touchscreen as it can speed up the process and is easily used. On the other hand, any venue that requires searching by name or any large displays may frustrate users in their interaction. For example, touchscreen keyboards commonly have problems with calibration and individual keys may require finger placement in different places than a user may be viewing ... sometimes even off the screen entirely. Health care is also not a good venue for touchscreens due to the potential for spreading of communicable diseases.
I expect touchscreen technology to improve in the future, offering more venue compatibility. I also expect audio/speech interaction as well as more specific displays that change based on audience characteristics. That is, the use of software and hardware that can scan the specific audience for characteristics and will display content targeted to a body type, physical attributes, gait or other factors. These technologies already exist, but are still in their infancy state and not as widespread as I expect they soon will be in the digital signage arena.
There is an expectation that digital displays should be entertaining, fun and engaging. That they should speak to the individual in a way that traditional signage is not expected to do, with tailored content that is relevant, engaging and emotional. Being provocative, surprising, or creating desire all serve to create greater engagement with digital. Technology provides many opportunities for users to interface with digital displays on many levels including touch, multitouch and gesture as well as social media, mobile integration and NFC technology. The existing technology, as well as future innovations currently in development, will have a powerful impact on digital signage. The key is to make sure that the application of the technology with the digital signage creates a value to the client and provides a solution to their marketing needs as well as a return on their investment.
The most important factor to consider with interactive advertising is that it initiates a true one-to-one marketing experience, and you, as the network operator, lose the "wide reach" aspect to monetize. Now, that one-to-one connection, if executed well, is extremely valuable to advertisers and commands a higher CPM rate, and even creates the possibility to develop rates based on "cost per engagement," which should be much higher than the highest CPM. So, just consider this during revenue modeling — interactive marketing is not a volume play, but rather an engagement play. As more experiences become interactive, unfortunately, commodity could set in and drive rates down. So, act now before consumers have the ability to taste new food items on the side of a bus shelter (remember "lickable wallpaper" from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory?). And never forget the cardinal rule in DPBM … relevance.
With the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablet devices, the user expectation of interactive digital devices is becoming more and more prevalent for digital signage. The opportunity for interaction really depends on the scope of the message being communicated. Interactive experiences (both short and long) can be identified when: a user is a captive audience, it's a one-to-one user experience, there is short dwell time, and the user is not distracted by external media.
Today we are seeing more iPad devices being used as Digital POS systems (Look at squareup.com). The iPad is a good starting point for the unique POS experience and we believe there is an opportunity for the deployment of interactive digital devices to grow. The natural early adopters will be POS, self-service POS, transportation/hospitality check-in/check-out, elevator/digital wayfinders.
I think that seamless digital interactive devices (that transcend location and allow you to take your interactive digital experience from device to device) will drive the growth in the market. An example would be watching a Netflix movie on your home TV, stopping your movie, hopping on a bus, and picking up the movie where you left off. I can't wait to see that sort of user experience integrated into the digital signage space.
Interactive digital displays are becoming more common, but I continue to feel that these displays are expensive for the amount of people they actually reach. They seem very niche-focused and tend to work great in environments where people interact with products and in places that are ideal for small-scale interactions with audiences. I foresee these interfaces increase in the future as technology becomes cheaper and its uses expand. However, a plateau will be reached, as performance is measured and results will not be as great as expected.
The greatest success for the types of displays will come from small applications that are tied with how people make decisions on product purchases. Examples include finding the right beauty products for your hair and face based on your natural qualities, or finding the right food products based on a certain recipe. These can be tied with coupons or product recommendations, which I feel will have a greater impact on consumers.
As for interactivity on screens, it's an issue we talk about often. Our challenge is that our medium is essentially a one-to-many medium. If we add some form of interactivity, we risk disrupting the viewer experience for anyone other than the person doing the interacting. As importantly, the person doing the interacting is likely to disrupt the delivery of advertising messages. I think interactivity is rapidly becoming the expected user experience and concurrently, the advertiser is interested in capturing any "clicks," they can. Thus, we are exploring how to incorporate interactivity and not disrupt the delivery of ad messages. NFC is one form we like and we hope it will come to market soon. If Apple were to include it in their next model of iPhone, that would tip the market. It's just not clear that they will.
Touch and gesture are great features and one of the major differentiators of digital signage versus other platforms. But like all features, they need to be applied in the right context. The applications need to be fun, engaging and provide utility for consumers. The best applications of these features I have seen are when consumers are invited to engage with a brand and as well as provide brand feedback. Because all of our digital platforms here at VeriFone have touch as well as data capture capabilities, we have emphasized this functionality and many advertisers have taken advantage of it. Our network has run multiple campaigns inside the taxis that included some form of gaming or engagement.
One great example was Sony. They were promoting the Seinfeld reruns on one of the local New York stations. Inside our cabs, they ran a quiz testing your knowledge of Seinfeld episodes. It was a lot of fun and we had a very positive response from riders.
We are also reworking our website and will have case studies posted to our site, which will link to advertiser sites.
The most effective interactive digital displays must truly serve their purpose within their chosen environment. Dwell time environments offer the opportunity to casually interact with a consumer over longer periods of time. While screen locations that are more conducive to one on one engagement allow for a meaningful and often rapid interaction. In both scenarios, interaction with the digital display must be inviting and purposeful without imposing barriers to engagement … like intimidation by way of complexity. Interactive engagement with screen media is a practice I believe will continue to be led by a consumers need for highly specific information, at one end of the spectrum, and general entertainment and education on the other. Whatever the future holds for interactive media, we know that public digital signage and display networks will help to bring it to the masses.
This one is really out of our realm of expertise, as we haven't had the need for it. With that said, I've seen so many kiosks come and go, particularly in my years at Blockbuster, I'm hesitant to hop on this bandwagon. I'm sure there are places interactive screens, etc. work and prosper, but haven't come across where they would be a benefit for our end-clients as of yet. We focus on in-store signage and our experience (such as Blockbuster and our current networks) has been a customer that really doesn't want to hassle with this type of thing, as everyone seems to be in such a rush.
I am curious to learn more though, especially if these are very intuitive devices, which I believe is the key. Because people are in such a rush, I can't see them (in our environments) 'learning' how to navigate through these screens. My question would be, what is the learning curve for these displays? Simple is the way to go. Another question I would have is, what is the additional cost (production is more with interactive displays and the programming needed) and is that worth it? For instance, I did see some interactive displays at Lowe's recently, small-shelf talker type screens in the tools section. I liked the idea, that it was a shelf-talker about one particular product, but is the cost (screens, programming, production) worth it for one product? But when I pressed on the screen, it didn't work, so I walked away. It has to work, it has to be simple to navigate and it has to be quick.
Any display that can be touched should be considered for an interactive application.
As an experiment, look at non-interactive digital displays for evidence of fingerprints. You'll most likely find them, because people expect screens to be reactive and interactive. Smartphones and tablets have conditioned us to swipe, poke and pinch screens in search of more information and a better experience. Interestingly, a few months ago I watched a 3-year-old child walk up to a home LCD and begin swiping at it, only to be disappointed when the screen did not respond.
Embracing interactive displays will be essential for any brand or retailer to stay current. When you encounter a CRT screen, what do you think? Probably words like "dated" and "ancient" come to mind. I believe that failure to utilize interactive displays properly, in up-close encounters, will be met with the same attitude.
Continually we are seeing better performance out of interactive screens, with better touch sensitivity. I predict that gesture-based screens will soon become more prevalent, thus creating a more hygienic, lower-maintenance experience.
If your strategic goals are to build sales through promotional pricing or display news feeds to mitigate wait time, then interactivity might not be warranted. But if your goal is to enhance the overall customer experience; if you can build sales by letting customers choose products to match their specific needs; if dispensing a paper chit — such as a coupon, recipe or test result — defines success; if you want a clear way to measure viewership and impact; then you should consider interactivity. Virtually every month produces a new application that expands the definition of interactivity, displays its versatility and demonstrates its far-reaching potential. We see gesture technology paired with large-scale videowalls to create "touchless" immersive experiences; retail windows transformed into giant interactive screens via rear projection and infrared cameras; interactive content coupled in-store with consumer blood pressure monitors to sell services and help save lives. In the future, expect to see mobile and interactive technologies integrate seamlessly. And although they are not traditionally early acceptors, keep an eye on how consumers aged 60 and older will be enticed with the convenience of gesture-based digital signage.
It's interesting to see the growth of interactivity over the past few years. What was once perceived as a "single touch" application has evolved into an immersive experience (depending how it's applied). Personally I have never been a big fan of interactive kiosks/displays primarily because they were single touch and designed for a "one-to-one" audience. What's the point of spending thousands of dollars on a display if only one person can use it at a time?
In viewing the technology today I have changed my past opinions. I think multitouch and gesture technology help to create experiences that allow the brand to communicate to multiple users at one time and also help bring the audience into the experience. With retailers struggling with showrooming issues multitouch/gesture based kiosks can help provide useful information to multiple customers and help deliver a more meaningful experience.
A recent example of a great "gesture" type application would be the recently launched Mercedes Benz "Visionary Showroom." Mercedes took an interesting approach by integrating a gesture-driven application, which allows the user to "virtually" interact with the models and also connect with their friends thought a variety of social media options. It's a great way to expand the dealer showroom and also immerse the consumer within the shopping experience.
Over the next couple of months I think you'll find more precision-based gesture technology appearing in the market from groups like Leap Motion. These technologies will help transform gesture technology from a nice to have into a "can't live without" resource.
It's a revolution on a grand scale! Natural User Interface (NUI) is the next stage of human-computer interaction from Graphical User Interface (GUI), just as the GUI was to the command-line interface (CLI). I've always been a geek for new media technologies and my recent work with NUI pioneer, Scott Snibbe, gave me firsthand insight and inspiration for the future of digital signage. (See: www.snibbeinteractive.com)
Touch-based digital signage pilots I was involved with years ago, clearly indicated that consumers expect shelf-height digital signage at retail to provide access to additional information via touch. My 4-year-old backs up the study … the first thing she does when she sees a screen is to touch it to see how it reacts, even when there is a keyboard and trackpad or mouse ("What's a mouse?!"). If customers aren't touching your screen, they're touching their smartphone … you choose (better yet, make them work together). Multitouch provides an opportunity to create a social experience, drawing multiple users into your interactive and creating another level of communication particularly useful for conceptual edutainment and gamification. Multitouch can facilitate retail sales by allowing a customer and sales rep to work together, particularly in a high consideration category with multiple components like automotive, home improvement, interior design, and home electronics systems.
But what I'm really excited about is gesture-based interfaces. Gesture encourages an immediate emotional connection between consumer and what's on the screen. Touch-free is sanitary, can be done from a distance, and can work better than touch for those with disabilities. Microsoft's Kinect is just the start, we're already seeing gesture-based technologies that work with the micro-gesture of a single finger, or how about the glance of an eye!
There is another very compelling reason for adopting NUI … analytics. Data capture provides measurability and optimization, two critical keys to the growth of our industry.
Certainly the definition of "digital signage" is expanding … "signage" is a bit limiting when you think about what we are building for venues where interactive applications for way-finding, digital merchandising and info-tainment are revolutionizing business by connecting with consumers in a more natural and meaningful way than a sign, digital or not.
One of the reasons you see touch-based implementations of signage at a much smaller scale than non-touch (besides cost and purpose) is that often only one person can interact with the interface at a time.
As solution providers develop more solutions that allow more than one user to use the interface at a time, you'll see implementations show up in areas you have not. Arsenal Media did a great job allowing many users to interact with the Miami Dolphins Buzzwall for example.
I see options in the future where someone can come up to a wall, create their own instance of the experience and drag it to a place they can interact while others do the same.
A more practical solution to this problem in place today of course is to allow people to interact with the interface using their phones — or allow them to "copy" the experience to their phone to take it with them.
This is where digital display networks will truly blossom. The technology is available now and it will only get better and more affordable.
Best applications have to be within the retail environment, but there is absolutely NO LIMIT to where and how you can apply interactive functions. Most important question you should be asking yourself, is not what you are capable to accomplish with an interactive display but how fast can your customer adopt and how can you get him to adopt faster.
As merchants, advertisers and customers are starting to adopt interactive displays you will see interactive displays explode in the next five years. When this happens, you will see passive networks, like the ones you see now and active networks those that interact with customers.
The future for interactive digital out-of-home, "IDOOH," will make possible a one-to-one approach without a mobile device, as you enter a store and walk through the aisles or as you enter a medical office, specific ads to you will air on a nearby screen. Your purchases will tie to ad campaigns and advertisers will be able to measure true campaign ROI. I believe that there is technology available today to develop interactive applications that will take several years for the public to adopt, hard to imagine what's next, but you can always ask any 13-year-old what's cool, and most likely you will see it soon enough.