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How IoT Will Change Digital Signage

A look inside what happens when you connect digital screens with the things around us.

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We love ensuring that screens can do more than they ever did. Our App Store is a great example of that. Not so long ago it was crazy difficult to get great content up onto your screens. Now, it takes mere seconds to have a Twitter feed running, a presentation, a dashboard or a live news feed.

But something we often discuss is; what’s the next step? What happens when our screens become even smarter and more connected to the rest of the “things” around us? So we decided to look at what will happen when screens become part of the internet of things (IoT) and here’s a hint: they already are.

Screen content activated by changes in circumstance

The key to all IoT systems is the data that is passed between them. Say you have a digital screen that’s hooked up to a traffic monitoring system. The monitoring system tracks bus patterns and traffic using mapping and the screen pulls all of that together using an app, which creates an exceedingly user-friendly dashboard. Suddenly, you’ve turned what were three independent systems (one screen, one traffic monitoring system, one tracking system) into one snackable digital screen.

Your screen then portrays what’s going on in the streets around you and the traffic patterns that could affect say, how you get to work in the morning. No longer do you have to get up, check the news on TV, look at an app for bus timetables and keep your fingers crossed everything will be on time. Instead, you have one live travel dashboard being fed by data that only needs a glance to ensure you get to where you need to be more effectively.

Checkout Google Traffic or TransitScreen to find out more.

“The world beyond the display”

There are other future digital signage scenarios we’re excited about which fall into an “if this then that” scenario dependent on the situation of other things. For example, say you have a digital menu board up in a restaurant and your top menu item sells out. The fridge that stocks the item realizes it has sold out, so it transmits a message to the digital screen. The screen removes the item from the menu board and replaces it with something else.

Customers can see exactly what is available and can make faster, more informed decisions.

Alternatively, you could have screens which talk to wearable fitness trackers and update advertising displays accordingly, screens which send out beacon messaging or screens which are affected by external factors. Say the weather is bad; you begin to display coffee offers and umbrella sales. If the weather’s nice, you switch to ice cream and sun cream.

These scenarios all help screens to become more useful and tuned in to the world around them.

Screens that sense their surroundings

You can’t talk about the future of IoT-enabled screens without looking at the connected shopping experience. For a long while now, futurists have predicted beacons becoming big business in stores attracting consumers. Truth is, the technology’s there but the strategy behind it still needs some work.

In a perfect scenario, all window displays would be interactive. The screen would talk to a sensor, which would talk to a beacon, which would talk to the user’s phone.

This would allow the user’s smartphone (or smartwatch etc.) to share preferences with the sensor or beacon, which in turn, would tell the screen exactly what to show. The shopper then has full control over the screen, by touching it or telling it what to share. Cue actual useful information such as interactive floorplans, offer codes and local information.

With added heat-mapping, digital signage could also be triggered to upsell items based on high-traffic areas. You could also have screens that sense when stores or businesses are getting busy and send an alert out to the smartphones of employees, to help reduce queue time.

Screens that react to instruction

Screens that decide what to do for you are great but we’re humans and of course, we often like to be in charge. Screens that are voice activated, like the ones we tested with Amazon Alexa create a world where screens can be told what to do.

The biggest benefit of voice-activated screens is that you don’t have to have a touchscreen (fairly expensive) to be able to implement and you don’t have to be anywhere near the screen in question.

For those who are physically disabled or blind, or even for children who may not be able to reach up and touch a screen, this poses a huge opportunity. In an office scenario, a marketing manager can simply tell a screen what to show and it’s job done.

Then you have touchscreens where customers can check what’s in stock, order a particular shoe size or get information about a business. In real estate, you could have interactive boards where visitors can browse through to find the perfect home.

In conclusion

When screens are more connected and more in tune with other products and systems you get digital signage which is:

  • activated by changes in circumstance
  • affected by other systems, sensors and devices
  • sensitive to surroundings
  • reactive to instruction

The above scenarios are either already here or not far off. Every day, more and more things get initiated into what we call the mass network. When the screens we use and view everyday become part of that, the possibilities are endless.

Start your digital signage journey today, sign up to a free trial of ScreenCloud at

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