Product lifecycles may seems fickle, but they are often predictable. Contrast that with the rise and fall of specific animal species. Consider for a moment the Dodo bird. It was virtually categorized for extinction. As a species, the DoDo was an ecologically naive, bland tasting bird, but was an easy catch for sailors who were hungry. Similarly, digital signage can eventually become a digital Dodo if it’s not careful.
There are various forms of escalation and evolution, digital media being only one of a vast array. It’s either get bigger, get better, get efficient, or die. Digital death can come quickly without adaptation. Could the homo erectus see where their species was headed? Probably not. In the case of digital signage, do we truly see where the medium is headed in five, ten, even fifteen years from now. Most likely not. We can make predictions. Heck, Arbitron and Neilsen do it all the time, but in reality there remains a certain dose of uncertainty that leads me to wonder, “what will digital signage evolve into?” Hopefully not the next stupid, extinct digital medium.
We’ve seen the emergence of a new digital age. The last 20 years have taken us from CRT televisions with their huge footprints and poor quality to HD, BluRay, and myriad of other devices that give the digital steak a more seasoned sizzle. We’ve also seen communication go from POTS (plain old telephone service) to pockets, where individuals can be reached at the drop of the hat at anytime and in any location worldwide through a cellular device. The costs of these devices has also significantly dropped as well, allowing for more broad acceptance of once untouchable units. Do you remember when a Plasma television cost between $10-15K?
The self-service kiosk world helped to spawn digital signage out of the funk-laden primordial swamp–a swamp originally dominated by static banner signage. As static signage becomes all but extinct in coming years, digital will also–of necessity– evolve into a different beast. Perhaps digital out-of-home will take on several different shapes as technologies diverge and converge in various ways. Personally, I think we’ll see more of the latter than the former. With new applications exuding themselves from the creative minds of digital signage developers, we’ll see PDAs, mobile phones, kiosks, digital signage, and RFID come together to create customer experiences like never before.
A more specific trait I see emerging from digital signage morphogenesis is the use of touchscreen applications. In the future, we’ll see many more self-help, large format digital displays come down from their high places on the walls to chest level. These displays will be integrated with interactive capabilities and allow for information dissemination to an audience who will be used to taking control of what they see and hear. Digital juke boxes, interactive video walls, video games, and handheld devices will allow the user to choose, within certain perameters, what will be displayed, heard, felt, smelled, and even tasted.
3M certainly hit the proverbial nail on the head with the development of Dispersive Signal Technology (DST) for large-format touchscreen applications. As consumers continue to demand to have control put back in their corner, we’ll see touchscreens implemented in part or whole as digital signage applications rollout.
What do you see the industry moving toward?