Precognition: The Future of Digital Out-of-Home

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The Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) industry will face a tidal wave of disruptions in the next 10 years. Those will come in the form of sweeping changes to consumer attitudes toward ad media—more specifically how people will choose to engage with retailers and brands. It will all be fueled by the reinvention of commerce from innovative companies like Amazon, SnapChat and Rent the Runway.

The way people buy things has drastically changed. Purchases happen across many channels, beyond walls and locations. Today’s commerce is becoming more and more platform agnostic and more personalized than ever … and thanks to advances in mobile technology, the customer has been empowered to be their own ‘point of sale.‘

People can and will have higher expectations for how they interact and engage in their digital out of home experiences. They’ll want the same convenience they get with their smart appliances or their mobile commerce apps. They’ll want to be able to act on impulse, on an emotional whim to make a purchase for themselves or someone they care about. They will seek out the experiences that pay off in the same way their current digital lifestyle does. Immediate gratification at scale – with a personalized touch.

The digital out-of-home industry must up its game to stay relevant. Time to rewrite the role and context this type of media plays in the grand scheme of making the buy happen. It is no longer about having the right message playing at the right time, at the right place. It will be about creating multi-sensory experiences.

Top emerging tech trends to watch:

Augmented Reality technology that doesn’t require you to wear a crazy helmet, goggles or use your mobile phone in an unnatural way. This technology is more scalable than Virtual Reality and doesn’t require people to disconnect themselves from physical spaces.

At CES this year, one of the standout innovations was a product called Hololamp, a hands-free device that takes a volumetric scan to map a physical space, and then projects interactive AR elements into  or onto physical objects or surfaces. It creates the illusion of a hologram by using 3D digital video projections that have been mapped to the actual physical attributes of the surface on which it projects.

Payments: Blockchain combined with AI, and the growing number of devices that are part of the IoT ecosystem could yield new ways to enable payments with various types of connected items – not just through mobile devices. Transaction of data through smart personal objects such as your eyeglasses, sensors in your shoes or jacket would enable the exchange of personal details like clothing or shoe sizes with just a touch.

Another example of enabling payment “anywhere” would be the partnership with IBM’s Watson and Visa. Early in February 2017, these two companies announced a partnership to create a platform to allow all types of wearables and other types of connected devices (e.g., Cars, Home Appliances) to leverage Visa’s Token Service—a technology that uses tokens as a digital identifier for transactions.

These types of personal token platforms will provide the digital OOH networks with the ability to create experiences similar to Disney’s MagicBand or more recently Princess Cruises Medallion Class Experience.

Advances in Machine learning and AI will continue to lead the way for more customization and personalization of content at scale. At NRF 2017, Google demonstrated its latest product, Google Cloud ML Platform opening the flood gates to anyone looking for neural net-based, scalable machine learning services – making it “easy” for digital out of home solution providers or network operators to start building out new functionality for their next-generation CMS.

Google’s Machine Learning platform will enable companies to access a full library and quickly build out and test features such as natural language processing, speech recognition, image analysis, sentiment analysis and even real-time language translation.

Emerging display technology built on the scientific discovery of Graphene will change the way we think of display shapes and sizes. Graphene is made of a single layer of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a repeating pattern of hexagons. It is one million times thinner than paper. It is so thin, it is categorized as a two-dimensional object. This material is 200 times stronger than steel, and a sheet of it could hold the weight of a full-sized elephant. Dutch scientists have created a display out of this material that uses mechanical color-changing pixels.

This could eventually yield a screen that is so thin and flexible, it could bend around corners or coat any type of shape. This technology, when commercially viable, will surpass LED screens in durability and energy efficiency. The first prototypes of this screen debuted at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Screenless 3DUltrahaptics is a type of haptic feedback technology that uses an array of ultrasound waves to create the feeling of a three-dimensional object in mid-air, basically creating a real-world sense of an object including a response to its physical properties. Think of it as a touchscreen without having to touch anything. The sound waves can create the sensation for 3D buttons, levers and other control surfaces.

This technology will eventually be used to create new types of interaction way beyond image or gesture-based interaction. In the first commercial application, Ultrahaptics will be used in 2017 cars as part of the NeoSense system—an environmental and entertainment control system created by Bosch.

Bots (no, not robots) or “Chatbots” are virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana or Siri. The use of the “Conversational interface” such as chatting, texting or naturally conversing with a software-based robot has grown since Amazon released its first AI-enabled speaker in 2015. Since then, Amazon has sold 5.1 million Echo devices to date. Sales of the Alexa product have spiked more than 400 percent since last year, and both Google Home and Alexa are reporting rapid growth in third-party developer adoption of over 1,500 percent.

One of the leading reasons that this type of human interaction with technology has been widely adopted by consumers in their homes, cars and at work, is that NLP (Natural Language Processing) accuracy rates has finally reached human parity, and it “humanizes” the technology in a more friendly, non-threatening way.

Big brands and retailers have already started test and learn trials with Facebook Messenger bots, (more than 1B people have Facebook’s Messenger app already installed on their mobile devices) Google home and Alexa – in hopes to learn more about how humans like – or dislike to communicate with technology. One of the pioneers developing Bot solutions specific for use at retail is Banter, a company that’s built an entire platform around Bot-based commerce. Use of Bot’s for customer service while on-site or in-store is a more cost-effective and scalable approach to human-powered chat interactions.

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Senior Managing Director, Innovation + Technology
TPN

MEMBER OF THE DSE ADVISORY BOARD
Advertising & Brands Council

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