By Jeff Hastings
CEO, BrightSign Inc
The past year demonstrated how the immense flexibility of digital signage helped many organizations quickly adapt to operate safely during the pandemic. And while we’re not yet out of the woods, this is a good time to reflect on some takeaways from the COVID crisis.
- The flexibility of digital signage has been a life-saver for many organizations (and their employees, visitors and other users).
The temporary closure of stores, restaurants and other businesses put a great deal of pressure on them last year, but digital displays proved indispensable in helping them conform to the new requirements and safely reopen. Digital signage pivoted rapidly from offering promotional and marketing messages to become a vehicle for communicating critically important health and safety messages to patrons, employees and the public at-large. The ability to swiftly and remotely update content enabled organizations to keep pace with fast-evolving health regulations – a key factor for businesses to demonstrate compliance and remain open during some of the pandemic’s darkest days.
- Temporary facilities need AV, too.
AV became a lifeline to healthcare administrators managing field hospitals and vaccination centers. Even temporary facilities like these require a robust AV infrastructure to direct patients to different areas, minimize their time indoors and reduce the risk of cross-infection when visitors wander into areas where they don’t belong. For example, at the Javits Convention Center vaccination facility in Manhattan, an impressive network of displays helps direct auto and pedestrian traffic in eight different languages as people approach the building. Once inside, additional displays and a massive screen hanging in the main atrium prompt patients to have key documentation ready to expedite processing. No doubt, these displays streamline patient processing and increase the number of daily vaccines administered.
- Interactivity doesn’t have to mean touch.
Retail, higher education, corporate, hospitality and other facilities are reimagining the experiences they offer customers and visitors as they reopen, particularly when it involves physical engagement such as touch interfaces. And while the industry won’t abandon interactivity altogether, we found new ways to create rewarding interactive experiences in-store. For example, new touchless solutions eliminate the need to physically engage with touch-interactive digital signage, transferring control of the experience to customers’ phones by simply scanning a QR code.
- Even self-service kiosks can work without touch.
New interfaces enable interactivity via buttons and sensors that don’t require physical touch. For example, Audio Authority’s AirSelect™ Touchless Sensors easily integrate into existing displays – which is great because then retailers don’t have to replace existing kiosk hardware. They act as a direct replacement for standard push-buttons, providing touch-free button engagement. These sensors engage based on the proximity of a customer’s hand, with indicator lights that illuminate, providing important visual feedback to help guide the customer engagement process.
- Even in lockdown, some have innovated with signage to create completely new experiences.
In a time when many are feeling disconnected and uninspired, exceptional organizations have been using technology to bring people together in very creative ways. A great example is MASARY Studios’ recent “Massively Distributed” interactive art installation at the annual Canal Convergence festival in Scottsdale, Arizona. This was a site-specific web app and public art installation that enabled the public to add their own compilations to the installation using the sights and sounds of their city. Using their personal smartphones and computers, people created dynamic sound and visual compositions via MASARY’s online media-sequencer app and submitted them for inclusion in the broader public presentation. During the event, three sites located throughout Old Town Scottsdale displayed a series of sound and video projections celebrating the community’s creations. Each of the three sites displayed the finished pieces via BrightSign media players feeding video content to a pair of Epson projectors, perfectly synchronized to a powerful sound system to complete the immersive experience. The installation was a community-driven public art project that brought people together safely outdoors during the height of the pandemic.