DSE – Digital Signage Expo 2014:
A Customer Mobile Trip Report

It’s everywhere you are. At the basketball game, it’s a larger than life video wall commanding you and other fans to “Make Some N-O-I-S-E-!!” … In Times Square, it’s an LCD giant that hangs above the tourist throngs urging them to buy everything from undergarments to Subway sandwiches… and in hotels and airports nationwide, it’s the over-sized, interactive touch-screens that help visitors locate nearby attractions, transportation options and the 5-day weather forecast. Digital signage is now a commonplace part of our daily interactions.

Here at Customer Mobile, we recently attended the DSE (Digital Signage Expo) 2014 in Las Vegas. It’s the largest digital signage exhibition in the country and we walked the floor alongside some other 4,000 conference goers, trying to get a better feel for this expanding, yet still fragmented, market. Why digital signage? Well, when you think about it, signage is at the core of our business.  Our screens tend to be a little smaller, and are coming at you on mobile devices and iPads.  But the concept is essentially the same – bringing people information on a screen.  We love to keep up with what others are doing with the technology, so we packed our bags for Vegas!

The event was held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center which provided 70,000 square feet of floor space – plenty of the room for the industry titans like Sony, Hitatchi and Philips to set up massive hanging mounting structures for their latest big screen products. Impressive stuff… But we were equally impressed with what’s happening with smaller-sized hardware vendors and their innovative software partners as well.  Here are a few things that stood out to us:

Uniqlo & Sharp’s Magic Mirror: What you see a lot of at this expo is the folks who have the hardware – the actual signs and mounts- and the folks who have the software – interactive ways to make use of these display technologies. One retail-focused software company, Uniqlo, has partnered with digital sign maker Sharp to create a “magic mirror” for clothing departments. This life size screen actually allows customers what they would look like wearing different styles or colors of a particular clothing line…as they stand in front of their image, in these clothes, reflected back at them.  Watching the video in the link gives you a better idea of how this works.  But it’s just one example of the myriad partnerships taking place at DSE that are creating the very cool retail experiences of the future.

Exceptional 3D: showcased their patented, lenticular lens technology which yields a stunning 3D display experience without the need for viewing glasses. This is eye catching stuff, perfect for use in car dealerships, amusement parks, sports arenas, even supermarkets – any place where you want to raise awareness about products and services in visually exciting way. The no glasses necessary is a real plus – and allows retailers to grab a customer’s attention with a vivid 3-D display anywhere, anytime.

Lo-K Systems: Holy Big Brother! The NSA has nothing on these guys!  Lo-K Systems introduced their MOVE software that allows store mounted cameras to study customer traffic patterns across the sales floor.  Each customer becomes his own unique “cookie” and the cameras then gather information about where the customer goes, what’s attracted them, what displays did they interact with, etc.  This real-time data stream is a gold mine in and of itself, but  Lo-K also uses that information to customize display screens throughout the store with targeted messages as each particular consumer passes by – based on their cookies.  Incredible stuff!

There was tons more.  But probably the most interesting thing we discovered from hosting our own Customer Mobile booth at the expo was the increased interest in tablet PCs, the so-called tablet kiosks or UMPCs, as sales devices.  We met a lot of retailers and software engineers who were compelled to find out more about how these user-friendly, modestly-sized screens can play a part of future in-store marketing success stories. It was a terrific experience meeting with these vendors and exchanging information. We left the expo reinvigorated with our resolve at Customer Mobile to develop innovative ways to bring retail customers a superior shopping experience.

So, to wrap it up, while many of the vendors wowed Expo attendees with huge “Times Square”- sized signage solutions and super 4k images (and boy, are they attention grabbing!), there are still a healthy number of companies, like ours, that ask the question; what can we do the enhance the buying experience once those big signs have brought potential customer onto the retail floor?  For us, the in-store mobile apps and kiosks exist to supplement the human sales force and we’ve only started to realize all the ways these little screen helpers can assist. Stay tuned for more…

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