Digital signage refers to electronic screens that display advertising messages, information, advertisements, or interactive content. It is a great choice for a wide variety of venues since it can be installed in almost any location. This technology has been around for quite some time, but its real explosion came with the introduction of the internet and interactive media. It is now used in many places including retail stores, airports, shopping malls, government offices, and even colleges and universities.
Digital signage is also a sub-segment of online digital signage. Digital screens employ technologies like LCD, LED, plasma, and e-ink to project video, audio, pictures, web content, restaurant menus, and weather information. Customers can interact with the displayed digital content either through text or through a special kind of software known as a “web browser”. A digital signage system consists of various components such as digital signage hardware, digital content display software, viewer hardware and communication interfaces. Let us take a quick look at each one of them:
Real-time Interactive DisplayThe simplest form of digital signage is the use of a projector or mobile phone to project the content on a screen. The technology is called “web-based real-time interactive display” and the wayfinding system is one example of this. In this method, an employee in the customer service center displays the displayed message on the screen by pressing a given combination of buttons. This is obviously quite slow and does not allow the customer to interact with the displayed message in a way that might otherwise be possible. In addition, interactive display systems have a hard time rendering high resolution content like photos or video.
Web-based Interactive DisplayWith the advent of high-speed Internet connections and robust web browsers, digital signage displays are capable of providing rich media interactivity. We refer to this feature as “rich internet applications”, or RIA. These types of digital signs can display video, audio, 3-D graphics and image thumbnails, which allow users to browse through content on the web and view thumbnail versions of individual screens. These types of displays can also include payment modules, which can be used for point of purchase transactions. To take advantage of the interactive display capabilities offered by digital signs, it is important that content is provided in a format that is easily readable by computers.
Rich Internet Applications The second type of digital signage that is gaining in popularity is rich internet application (RIAs) – otherwise known as digital signage solutions. These are software applications which allow users to interact with digital content, rather than just reading it. For instance, digital signs can present restaurant reviews and menu choices. Users can also access the digital signage system through a web browser and browse through the available choices or search for particular items.
Rich Media Certain elements present on traditional wayfinding signs and interactive digital signage solutions, such as digital signage panels and rich media objects such as video, audio and visual thumbnails, are very valuable to customers. For example, a digital signage panel which features a video or a photograph of an attractive landmark can help people to identify it while they are searching for more information about it. In the same way, a video clip that was taken at the location of the landmark and provides clear, captivating imagery can help customers to recall it and to find out more about it. Rich media objects can help create a more vivid experience and make it easier for people to access particular information or to retrieve specific content from the system.
Digital Signage Management SystemThe third type of digital signage, which is rapidly gaining popularity is the use of digital signage management systems. These systems provide users with the ability to manage, control and display their digital signage displays in a way that is easy to manage, intuitive and fun. These display management systems work by providing a software player, which is installed on a computer, with the ability to browse through different media players such as QuickTime, Real Audio and WMM. It also provides the capability to control and play back the digital signage displays, regardless of whether the display is used internally or externally.
Media Players such as QuickTime and Real Audio allows users to view digital signage content in the easiest and most enjoyable manner. Users can view digital sign content in split screen or large view mode and can even pause, rewind and record the content as many times as required. In addition, these media players allow users to select different languages for the content to be displayed. The fourth type of digital signage systems, rich media players, are capable of providing rich digital signage content and can also be used by remotely controlled devices. They can play back video, audio and photos, as well as store files on their hard drive. The advantages of Rich media players include being portable and being able to connect with multiple computers and servers.
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