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Four Predictions for the Future of Digital Signage

We look into our crystal ball at what’s ahead for this transforming industry.

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We’ve been very vocal about digital screens not being utilized to full effect right now. Digital signage is completely siloed and that’s why we’re working on a new computing platform for screens, one that will bring digital screens into the fore and allow anyone to use them to better effect.

This has got us thinking, what else might be about to change in digital signage? For a long time digital signage has been defined as TV screens or monitors used to showcase advertising content - images, videos, adverts and so on. But we (amongst others) believe that the future of digital signage is so much more than that.

It’s something wider that we probably don’t even have a name for yet, that’s driven by all of the trends we’re seeing right now - consumer purchasing behaviour, multi-screen marketing, user generated content, voice-recognition and so on. 

In this article, we’re going to explore four predictions for how we see digital signage panning out and what we’re excited for in the coming years. 

A web-driven TV experience

We’re online all day long and we’re bombarded by news. We’re reading articles and blogposts, we’ve got Twitter and Facebook and it all gets in the way of work and what we’re meant to be doing - coming at us from every angle. 

Then we get home, we switch on the TV and it’s the opposite experience. We have loads of channels, but they all have ads in and we have to flick through them to find something we want to watch. The other option is of course, Netflix - but what it doesn’t have going is the same sit back, let the TV show stuff to me mentality. You have to think about it.

There’s nothing where you can just sit there and be shown interesting stuff.

Here, in our homes, there’s a giant screen that’s being totally underutilized for giving me entertainment, or informing me or just providing me a different experience. It’s effectively the same experience we’ve had since we got cable TV in the 1990s. 

Why this matters

It feels to us like there should be a web medium for screens, to bring us useful, relevant, lean-back information. There’s no platform for that right now. Something where the content is ambient - where you can see the news, your appointments, a family photo feed, your business metrics and Twitter updates. 

All of this information is already on the web and it’s being used every day to create the experience on our personal devices. Now it needs to extend to the big screen - presented and accessible in the right way. 

This is something that the right digital signage platform could well cater for in the future. 

Better interactions - led by voice

When you’re using your laptop or phone, interaction is easy. But when you’re using a TV screen, the interaction is where you get stuck. 

Remote controls works fine when you have four channels. With hundreds, it’s difficult to flick through. 

Something we’re building into ScreenCloud is a way to flick between playlists and items, on screen. So that you can pass through the ambient information coming at you with the press of a button - next tweet, go back one, show me that photo again and so on. 

Take this out of the home and it becomes even more interesting.

Voice recognition will be a big part of the future of our interaction with computers and phones. 

But wait - that’s weird.

Start talking to your laptop or phone in a coffee shop or on a park bench and it feels uncomfortable. But start talking to your screen in the office, or in a meeting and suddenly it’s not weird but seriously impressive.

Using Alexa or Echo, you can tell your screen to show last month’s sales reports. By talking to the screen, you can navigate your way through a presentation.

Why it matters

The founding technology isn’t quite there yet. But as we build onto the ScreenCloud platform to master simple interactions and others begin rolling out awesome technologies like voice control, we can match the two in progress.

That goes beyond digital signage - becoming a shared computing vision that crosses into the IoT soon to be running our homes and offices. 

Network-driven communication

There are times in every office where a cool video gets put into the water cooler room in Skype, or gets emailed round, and everyone watches it individually, or someone opens it with sound and everyone crowds round to watch it. But for the people on the other side of the room it doesn’t work.

These offices likely have a screen sitting on the wall. But no one thinks to send the video there for anyone who wants to turn their head and watch it, because the screen’s off, or it’s too difficult to get it up or you need to connect a laptop to show it and by the time you’ve done that, what’s the point?

As interesting stuff is coming into Slack, or by email, it could (and should) be up on the screen. 

This is just one use case - but that’s our future vision. To wire up screens in offices and build up apps so that things will eventually evolve where large screens become more and more useful to us within a shared environment. 

Why this matters

We’re being stopped from the web breaking out of browsers and mobile phones to these big screens because there’s been no easy way to connect them up and for the content to flow to all screens. 

But here’s the catch - all of the screens in your office or shared space are already connected to your network. They have the capability in the device - whether LG, Samsung or Chrome, to be picked up through the LAN or Wi-Fi connection.

TVs have this visibility built in but no one ever uses it, because it’s not advertised. Instead, we usually employ a Chromecast (or similar) which advertises the presence of each screen on the network.

What none of the individual manufacturers have done yet, is to create a network-driven computing system that can pick them all up, and direct content to them.

This is what we’re trying to do with ScreenCloud

Mobile-driven OOH marketing

Let’s face it, screens are minority report-esque and we’re naturally drawn to them. Just like the police and news control rooms, where there are entire walls filled with screens -  people gravitate towards that vision. 

Recently there have been some cool developments in beacon Bluetooth-led technology. This is the type of stuff you keep hearing about that’s going to let shop owners send coupon codes to passer-bys. 

The trouble right now, is that it’s all still reliant on QR codes and other technology which is tied to the user having specific apps installed on their phone. 

This is fine if you’re demoing what might be possible in the future but until these acts are truly seamless, they won’t become a way of everyday life. 

In the future, the technology will be built into TVs and phones as something that just happens. So you’ll take the phone near a screen in a store window and it will say ‘would you like to connect’ and you can say yes to go to a unique URL with an offer code. Go up to bus stop, take your phone to the timetable and you’ll see a notification which says ‘bus timetable’ with a URL that opens the timetable up on your phone.

Why it matters

In the case of signage, the phone is the ideal device to be the remote or the interaction point - solving the problem of how do we know what screen that is, which is still to be solved. Much nicer to take the phone in the range of the screen, click the url and start interacting with it than having to go through the arduous task of downloading an app or even opening one. 

In conclusion - ScreenCloud

Like any startup, we see a bigger picture for the software we’re building. One where we aren’t just helping more and more customers send their content to screens. This is the beginning sure, we want to make it simple for marketers, IT managers and company owners to pull digital signage into their business stack. But we also want to do more than that.

We want to integrate the latest technology and make the screens on our walls become as relevant and useful as our smartphones and our laptops.

We may not get there overnight but it’s certainly something to work towards.

To find out more about what we’re up to at ScreenCloud follow the journey. You can also setup a 14-day free trial of our awesome software here

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