Digital Signage Breaks Through Clutter

Intel Architecture-based digital signs provide an innovative vehicle for narrowcasting specific groups of consumers.

By Ann Steffora Mutschler

Particularly with today’s challenging economic conditions, effective advertising can make all the difference in retail sales of products and services by enabling a visually dynamic way to focus consumer attention on ads and promotions.

Given estimates that the typical American adult is exposed to 625 advertising messages every day, digital signs can be an effective way to break through visual advertising clutter. As a result, digital signs have surged in popularity due to being more eye-catching than traditional static paper signs and delivering an improved return on investment for retailers, thanks to the lower cost of updating new ads and brand messages.

In this market, the latest embedded Intel® architecture platforms are being leveraged to deliver a rich blend of promotional messages, objective information and qualitative content by companies such as dZine, which has more than 15 years of experience in digital signage technology and has an installed base of 75,000 digital signs including installations in more than 250 airports around the world.

According to Jose Avalos, Digital Signage Director in Intel’s Embedded and Communications Group, the market opportunity for digital signage is a healthy one. “Intel’s analysis of the digital signage market indicates a projected CAGR of 26% from 2009 to 2015. This translates to a digital signage media player worldwide market opportunity of more than 2 million units in 2010 and close to 8 million units by 2015,” he said. Avalos remarked that this is an Intel estimate and that the actual opportunity of digital signage screens will be about 2X the number of media players as there are about a 2X the ratio of screens to media players in the market place.

A range of Intel® technology can be used in digital signage applications to address digital signage media player requirements from entry-level performance with Intel® Atom™ processors, to mainstream performance with Intel® Core™ i5 processors and Intel® Core™2 Duo processors, to high-end performance with Intel Core i7 processors.

“Intel Core i5 processors are used in mainstream applications that require remote management with Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT), high performance for anonymous video analytics (AVA) applications, and high performance for interactivity, and media processing and blending. Technologies like Intel AMT lower total cost of ownership for network operators and deliver energy efficient applications, and Intel’s performance for AVA drive increased ROI for brands and venues via advertising metrics,” Avalos explained. In the case of dZine, Intel AMT allows the company to query, fix and secure devices, even when they are powered off or are having software issues.

Further, he noted that as many devices become connected and interactive across embedded industries, including digital signage, Intel’s technologies and product solutions become increasingly relevant as technologies like Intel AMT can help network operators manage and maintain the devices remotely, including turning them off when not in usage for energy efficiency. “As these devices become connected they also become smarter; this enhanced intelligence translates into rich interactive usage models that can be supported by the increased performance delivered by the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.”

In terms of location, banks, post offices, ski runs and airports are some of the most high-traffic public spaces, which makes them perfect for digital signage. By leveraging solutions based on embedded Intel Core2 Duo processors, signage can be modified based on audience characteristics, and signs have the intelligence to adapt their messages to changing environmental conditions, such as time of day.

In addition, interactive digital signage allow retailers and other operators to benefit from real-time data feedback as digital signage based on Intel architecture platforms can gauge consumer interest with anonymous video analytics that captures data on the number of viewers, viewing duration and audience demographics. The technology can also be used for security-related crowd surveillance in airports.

If that were not enough, the latest digital signage solutions can not only push advertising messages, but digital signs equipped with Bluetooth technology are capable of communicating with a consumer’s smart phone, enabling the phone to pull selected content such as e-coupons, designed to complement product promotions or service offerings.

Finally, while there is a significant need in the industry for open standards and pre-validated reliable platforms that can be remotely managed, Avalos asserted that Intel is working hard to deliver scalable and interoperable solutions that address this need in the industry.

Ann Steffora Mutschler is Executive Editor of Extension Media’s EECatalog Resource Catalogs, and is also a Contributing Editor to Chip Design Magazine’s System-Level Design and Low-Power Design Communities.