Articles and Whitepapers

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Almo Professional AV leverages hospitality industry for growth

Almo Professional AV, a commercial audio/visual distributor, recently expanded its headquarters to support its growth. Much of that growth has come from the  hospitality segment.

In fact, hospitality has consistently been one of Almo’s fastest-growing verticals, catalyzed by its acquisition of IAVI in 2016.  

The acquisition essentially doubled our hospitality business and it was the perfect opportunity to combine our strengths in specialized sales, business development and leadership with the goal of expanding the opportunity beyond the guest room TV. We’ve expanded our offerings from primarily in-room entertainment to include guest comfort and conveniences; banquet and meeting spaces; guest experience and revenue drivers; and indoor/outdoor furniture and recreation,” said Apryl Lamberti, Almo’s director of Business Development.  

Almo Corporation is the largest independently-owned appliance distributor in the country and has extensive relationships with appliance manufacturers. She said the hospitality division is “breaking the mold” between Almo’s traditional appliance dealers and professional AV dealers and integrators by “cross-pollinating its offerings and infusing hospitality-focused lines.”

The company saw an opportunity in hospitality because of wireless charging and travelers’ reliance on mobile devices and keeping them charged. Almo just entered an exclusive distribution partnership with Nonstop, a new-to-market brand that uses the Qi-Wireless charging platform for its modern, designer-like alarm clocks/charge pads, for example.  

“Also, outdoor hotel areas are big.  More attention is being spent on designing these areas to be an extension of the hotel and resort’s common spaces, which results in creating memorable guest experiences that help drive loyalty rates,” Lamberti said. 

Interestingly, outdoor living has been one of the biggest areas of growth for Almo. The company is also getting ready to launch a commercial contract line of outdoor furniture that will be exclusively distributed by Almo Hospitality. 
 
“For example, last year I stayed at a Renaissance property in Austin. This property was surrounded by plush and rolling landscape and its outdoor area was aptly named ‘The Treehouse’ as it was positioned right among a massive oak tree canopy. This balcony had plenty of outdoor seating: sofas, high-top dining tables, plus an oversized built-in fire pit. Two nights in a row after dinner I checked out The Treehouse and was pleasantly surprised by no less than 10 to 12 hotel guests, none of whom knew each other but who had guitars. I watched complete strangers join together singing folk songs, in The Live Music Capitol of the World.  It has been more than a year since I stayed at this property but when I make it back to Austin, you can bet this is where I will book,” Lamberti said.  

This example, she adds, underscores why properties that create environments utilizing their actual environments are successful.

“Environments that utilize the surrounding landscape or ways to feature some outdoor fire tables, fountains, lighting, audio, etc. to create spaces unique to that property  with a local flair  to make a memory sticks with the guest long after they’ve left the property.  They are also more likely to write a positive guest review or share their experience on social media, which is a win for the hotel,” she said. 

Looking ahead, Jim Nista, senior director of Content Creation Services, said wayfinding, event listings and “go boards” are the biggest opportunities for digital signage in the hospitality segment.  

We frequently get requests for dynamic event screens showing a facility map so guests can find their way to meeting and event spaces,” he said. “For go boards, we do still get requests for local amenities content – although this is decreasing more and more as local businesses change and guests are used to using apps on their phone for recommendations.

In the hospitality space, the king of content is premise event listings with dynamic maps showing each available room, Nista said.  

Almo is currently working on a few case studies with its reseller partners to highlight some of the trends the company is seeing for in-room entertainment and digital signage. 

Looking ahead, Nista predicts automation to emerge as a bigger theme in digital signage.

“Automated or easy to update hyper local content is what we get frequent requests for. Guests require relevant local content on information screens – this needs to be easy to update or automatically feed in from data services,” he said.  

Lamberti adds that the opportunities are strong for the company and the industry in general.  

“In the past 15 or so years, hotels have typically trailed behind the changing consumer market when it comes to technology updates,” she said. “It’s always surprising to me when I hear how many properties are still  piping in standard definition content for free-to-guest channels in the guest rooms. From what we’ve seen in the market, the time is ripe for professional AV companies and hospitality-specialized resellers to invest in supporting the specific needs of hoteliers and understanding what their motivations are compared to a typical retailer.” 

The time for trailing behind, however, has to come to an end, she adds. AVIXA recently predicted that $3.1 billion will be spent in digital signage in 2019 and consumers interacting with screens is a regularity now.

“The reality has hit and for the last decade, hotels have relied on interior designers to create environments that captivate guests using color, décor, lighting, textures and other elements of design. However, with the speed at which technology changes, and with how advanced consumers have become, it’s no longer an option for hotels to count on traditional methods of interior design to give guests the feeling of technology incorporated into their world,” Lamberti said.  ”If they don’t start deploying digital signage technology and using content to engage guests, guests are going to follow the newer brands and boutique brands that have migrated to incorporating digital screens into their properties and the traditional hotels will start to slip in occupancy rates as millennials quickly approach nearly 50 percent of the workforce.”


There is a Special Angel Watching Over the City of Angels During the Fires – By Paul Fleuranges

There is a Special Angel Watching Over the City of Angels During the Fires

 

 Today, all of us are watching the difficult situation in Los Angeles and other cities in California as the most destructive and deadliest fires in state history seem to grow larger by the minute. Over 50 people have died, over 100 people are missing, and thousands of homes have been destroyed. Firefighters, the Red Cross, and law enforcement are working as hard as they possibly can to save lives and protect property. It’s times like these when incredible stories begin to emerge of people doing unexpected life-saving work that defines public service and serves as wonderful examples of doing good to help others. In many ways, this is what keeps hope alive.

One such story involves the Federation for Internet Alerts (FIA). It may surprise all of us that there is a special angel watching over the City of Angels during these fires, and her name is Angel Babcock. In March of 2012, Angel, her parents and two siblings passed away when her home was flattened by a tornado.  Angel was only 20 months old.

Angel Babcock

I speak about Angel in the present tense because FIA has carried on her memory every day since the day she went to Heaven on March 4, 2012. At the time of Angel’s passing, FIA was early on in developing its technology through a partnership as a secondary AMBER Alert distributor with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. On the day Angel’s story was reported, a FIA volunteer read it and mobilized a team at Conversant to adapt the AMBER Alert technology to serve tornado warnings. It was a remarkable display of passion for Angel. Everyone wanted to channel our sadness in a way that would allow Angel’s memory to live on and save others that might have a chance to reach safety. Maybe it would be different for future Angels. Maybe her legacy could help the City of Angels.

Six years later, Angel’s memory has never been more real to all of us at FIA — as her memory lives on in each alert we serve. It has been a critical force for good as FIA has emerged as the largest global alerting platform for a wide variety of emergency alerts like the 8,257,054 Fire Weather Warnings served to the public in California, including the City of Angels, during the month of November.

Since Project Angel was launched, we have served over 2 billion weather warnings across the United States and Canada.

We could not be prouder of Angel and the spirit she has left behind for all of us to cherish.

Paul Fleuranges,

The Digital Signage Federation, Board of Directors, FIA Partner

Paul Fleuranges


MTA Arts & Design Unveils New Digital Artwork “Skyyys™” Now on Display at Fulton Transit Center

 

   

MTA Arts & Design Unveils New Digital Artwork “Skyyys™” Now on Display at Fulton Transit Center

Just in time to mark the start of summer, the award-winning Digital Arts program administered by MTA Arts & Design has unveiled its fifth digital artwork at the busy Fulton Center Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan.  Titled Skyyys™ the new video installation by interdisciplinary artist Dave Greber playfully mimics the constant stream of visual information that we all experience daily.  He remixed recognizable, colorful kinetic objects into an entertaining and witty new universe of familiar objects such as balloons, bouncing balls and stuffed animals.

“Dave’s fun and inventive digital work featuring objects often associated with childhood and play gives additional dynamism to the mixed use elements of Fulton Center — its myriad shops and this vital transportation hub,” said Sandra Bloodworth, director of MTA Arts & Design. “The energy and mixture of colors, stuff and patterns are simply joyful.”

The fluid pace, whimsical imagery, and prismatic palette of Skyyys™ creates harmonious visual-music that complements the pace of commuters at Fulton center, a likewise kaleidoscopic space of transition as riders make their way throughout the busy subway hub served by the 2 3 4 5 A C and J lines.  Skyyys™ was created using the artist’s unique approach of filming carefully constructed sets that are then re-envisioned as entertaining digital worlds.  Greber’s work across mediums references ideas of pop culture, advertising and spirituality, generating a mystic reading of contemporary society using video and sculpture.

The immersive, captivating videos air simultaneously for two minutes at the top of each hour on 52 digital screens throughout the Fulton Center complex and the Dey Street pedestrian tunnel that connects multiple New York City Transit lines to the World Trade Center PATH station.  The Westfield Fulton Center network synchronizes 44 LCD video walls, totaling more than 1,200 square feet and nine locations of LED screens, totaling more than 2,100 square feet. The complex media network plays in one and two-minute loops, offering news feeds, sports, weather, advertising, transit information and digital art.  The MTA Arts & Design Digital Art program is presented with technical support from Westfield Properties and ANC Sports.

“The network at Fulton Center is a unique palate for new media artists, and the back end synchronization allows the content to be displayed as designed,” said Yaling Chen, Deputy Director and leader of the Digital Art team at MTA Arts & Design. “Dave worked with our team and our partners from Westfield Properties and ANC Sports and the outcome exceeded his expectations,” added Chen.

MTA Arts & Design has won three DSE APEX awards for its new media installations at Fulton Center, most recently a Bronze at DSE 2018 in the Transportation Category for “The Fluid” created by Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist Chris Doyle.   Skyyys™ will be on display through fall 2018.

About the artist

Dave Greber (b. 1982, Philadelphia) is an installation and video artist who addresses concepts of spirituality, marketing, and pop culture through his work. Greber creates vibrant, quirky, revelatory images and installations using a combination of video-loops, sculpture, and painting. Dave Greber studied at Temple University, Universiteit van Amsterdam, and Tulane University. After a stint as a filmmaker/freelance commercial video producer, he found his calling in the contemporary art resurgence of post-Katrina New Orleans, creating video loops and site-specific multimedia installations. His work has been featured in museums and galleries including the Whitney, Crystal Bridges, Minneapolis Institute of Art, C24 Gallery, and Staten Island Arts’ LUMEN Festival. For more information about her work, visit http://www.thesculpted.com/   

About MTA Arts & Design

MTA Arts & Design, formerly known as MTA Arts for Transit & Urban Design, encourages the use of mass transit in the metropolitan New York area by providing visual and performing arts in the transit environment.  In November 2014, Arts & Design launched the Digital Arts program that feature works of contemporary new media artists throughout MTA’s digital media network.  The Percent for Art program is one of the largest and most diverse collections of site-specific public art in the world, with more than 300 commissions by world-famous, mid-career and emerging artists. Arts & Design produces photography installations as well as graphic arts and live musical performances in stations through its Music Under New York (MUSIC) program, and the Poetry in Motion program in collaboration with the Poetry Society of America.  It serves the more than eight million people who ride MTA subways and commuter trains daily and strives to create meaningful connections between sites, neighborhoods, and people. For more information, please visit mta.info/art

      

 

 


Five Steps Retailers Can Take to Keep Shoppers Coming Back

Five Steps Retailers Can Take to Keep Shoppers

 Coming Back

 Jeff Hastings, BrightSign CEO

 

On the surface it would seem brick-and-mortar retailers are in trouble. Big legacy brands like Sears and JC Penny are dramatically scaling back their storefront presence, while retailers like Toys R Us are shuttering altogether. True, e-commerce is causing havoc in the brick-and-mortar space, but I firmly believe that reports of the demise of retail are greatly exaggerated.

 

Customers still enjoy the experience of going shopping – most people are not so reclusive that they wish to curtail in-store shopping altogether. They don’t want to live life between four walls with everything brought to their door. They like to get out, to meet and interact with people including knowledgeable retail assistants. There’s an upside to seeing and handling certain products before purchase.

 

The key to recovering foot-traffic in retail is the shopping experience itself. Here are five examples of our customers around the world going to extraordinary measures to enhance the brick-and-mortar retail shopping experience:

 

  1. Make The Customer’s Experience Smooth and Seamless: Robinsons 200,000 sq. ft. flagship store in the Dubai Festival Mall has signage that can be instantly updated by store staff. Customers are welcomed by way-finders directing them smoothly not only to the relevant department, but to the brand that they’ve come to see. Each department has brand columns featuring video content provided by those brands. In the VIP check-out, further screens advertise special promotions to the most affluent customers.
  2. Encourage Interaction: Travel is a top online purchase, but the UK’s first interactive holiday store, Cruise 1st in Manchester, offers customers a truly unique space in which to select their next cruise holiday. Passing shoppers are attracted by in-window screens and a 2×2 video wall showing 4K video content and images. In-store, live TV content from Cruise 1st’s own Sky TV channel is displayed on a video wall. Touchscreen kiosks make choosing a holiday a game for the entire family.
  3. Beacon Technology: Improves the overall digital signage experience by increasing audience engagement and creating a personalized experience on two screens. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon technology, 2-way communication between digital signage and mobile devices is achieved and allows for the delivery of highly targeted promotions based on location as well as the ability to control digital signage playback from a mobile device.
  4. Use Social Media On The In-store Signage to Engage Customers: Vegas EXP has embraced digitally enhanced experiential shopping. It has a total of 28 screens, with a 55-inch interactive display in the heart of the store. When idle, the screen displays content such as notable Instagram feeds and the local weather forecast. When customers engage with the display, they can browse the online catalog but also have fun with the “selfie mode,” scrolling through and taking selfies in front of various iconic Las Vegas backdrops.
  5. Create a “wow” factor: El Palacio de Hierro’s flagship store located in Mexico City has replicated a large overhead stained glass ceiling with a 60-inch LED sphere and full-ceiling LED display installed atop the store’s 66-foot-high main concourse.

 

With innovations like these, it’s clear to see we’re not even close to end-times for the physical retailer. The dip we’re seeing in retail is a sign that retailers haven’t yet hit on the right formula to stay relevant in this digital age. But savvy retailers are facing the issue head-on and using digital signage to deliver the right experience to keep customers coming back.

 



FDA Menu-labeling Regulations (finally) Take Effect

by Jeff Hastings, CEO of BrightSign, LLC

This May the FDA’s long-awaited menu-labeling regulations went into effect, following a one-year reprieve intended to give restauranteurs more time to become compliant. This legislation is far-reaching, requiring restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to display nutritional information on their menus to help customers make healthful, informed choices. And while these new rules squarely affect fast casual chains, the regulations are far-reaching in that they apply not just to fast casual, but to other chain locations offering food service such as movie theaters, convenience stores and even vending machines.

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Ability to attract attention driving staggering growth of video walls

Video walls are growing at a 23.8-percent CAGR, according to Zion Market’s 2017 research report. That staggering number is driven by users’ need to stand out, engage and attract attention, according to Daniel Griffin, Userful’s VP of Marketing.

“As more screens are out there, in order to catch attention and engage an audience, people realize single screens aren’t enough and that has helped drive the huge growth in video walls,” Griffin said.

He does not expect this strong growth trajectory to slow down anytime soon.

“There’s no doubt that there’s enough demand out there that everyone in the digital signage industry needs to ensure they have a strong video wall offering that is feature-ful, scalable and flexible,” he said. “The growth numbers make it clear that people are turning to video walls in a very significant way.”

Griffin said video walls have even become a requirement for many big spaces, such as airports, malls, arenas and stadiums. However, Userful is also seeing more immersion in smaller spaces.

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How to Make the Most of DSE

by Jeff Hastings, CEO of BrightSign, LLC

With Integrated Systems Europe now in the rear-view mirror, our industry turns its collective attention to Digital Signage Expo later this month in Las Vegas. DSE isn’t the biggest tradeshow we attend in the US, but it’s certainly the show that’s most focused on digital signage. For that reason alone, I find DSE to be an accurate barometer of what to expect in the year ahead.

The digital signage industry is made up mostly of perennial attendees – companies like BrightSign that have been coming to DSE for many years, and that will still be attending years from now. But every year there’s a sizeable crop of first-time exhibitors – last year, of the 255 companies on the show floor, 74 were first-time exhibitors. If those numbers hold true this year, that means nearly three of every 10 exhibitors will be attending for their first time. These new exhibitors seem to fall into two camps: relatively unknown startup companies trying to get into the market, and well-known tech brands trying to make a sideways entry into the digital signage space. I’m particularly intrigued by the latter. Our market has grown far beyond its traditional “signage” roots and it’s understandable that big companies will attempt to wedge their way into our market to make a quick buck.

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Interactive touchscreens benefiting from ‘industry tornado’

RealEyes Displays, a company that provides interactive displays for information kiosks, waiting rooms, trade shows and college campuses, doubled in size last year. CEO Alex Bernier attributes this growth to an “industry tornado” that is driving interactive displays into the mainstream.

“Touchscreens have always been there, but new software technology such as Intuiface, and lower costs of high-powered PCs are moving us to what appears to be an industry tornado,” he said. “The design, deployment and support standardization of these systems is making it easier for every vertical to invest.”

His company, which was started by Bernier in 2010, is especially seeing an increase in large interactive screens for trade show booths.

“Clients now have a strong need to show product lookups, 3D models, games, and highly attractive video sequences of their customer journey,” Bernier said.

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Seven Ways PowerPoint Can Change the Way You Create Digital Signage

By: Kurt Dupont, founder and president, PresentationPoint

PowerPoint-driven digital signage? Most people are surprised when I suggest PowerPoint as an easy method for the development and management of digital signage.

As you know, a simple but powerful, method to grab the attention of anyone, anywhere, is to use a screen. TV, computer or mobile screens are great attention grabbers, and most people would admit it’s hard to stop staring at them each day.

A lot of the time, of course, you’re seeing digital signage on those screens, especially at fast food restaurants, airports, corporate lobbies, schools and hospitals. PowerPoint-driven digital signage, for example, tells you which flights are arriving, which foods are available on the menu or special offers in the grocery store. With screens just about everywhere in our lives today, digital signage provides the perfect way for businesses or public agencies to engage with their customers or constituents.

With this in mind, why is PowerPoint an effective tool for creating digital signage? The fact is it’s flat out easy to create digital signage using PowerPoint. Everything you need is available in this venerable, proven application. No more need to haggle with Adobe and Photoshop for your digital signage needs. To this end, here are seven reasons why PowerPoint is a dynamic tool you can use to create powerful digital signage content.

Fastest Way to Create Digital Signage

If you have a computer, you’ve probably used (or at least know of) PowerPoint. Its features are straightforward, and it takes little time to start creating eye-catching digital signage.

Many PowerPoint Slide Libraries and Templates Available

With PowerPoint, you can start creating digital signage using templates for hospitals, hotels, schools and a wide range of other sectors. Using PowerPoint slide templates is just as effective as creating new ones.

Flexible Updating

Just as it’s easy to create compelling content and appealing PowerPoint digital signage, it’s simple to change anything you want and update with new information.

Powerful Visual Transitions and Animations

One feature that makes PowerPoint a powerful tool for digital signage is its built-in transition and animation functions. You can animate text and images and play videos. People love animation, and PowerPoint provides great attention grabbers. Transitions also add a creative side to your digital signage presentations, keeping users interested in what you need to communicate.

Innovative Tool for Real-Time Data Updating

For operations personnel at airports, flight and critical travel information change constantly and needs continuous updating with new arrival schedules or take-offs. One master slide is all you need after creating your digital signage: the new information or data can be automatically updated, with new data from Excel, RSS feeds, databases and more.

Using PresentationPoint’s DataPoint, for example, acting as a PowerPoint add-on module, real-time data is updated, and automatically appears on all screens. All your data signage stays up to date. Any changes you make are quick and prompt.

Unique Software for Digital Signage Creation and Management

Suppose you have multiple digital signage screens in different locations in the same shop or spanning several business areas. With PresentationPoint software and PowerPoint, you can create playlists for different digital signage display.

The digital signage in various screens or locations is remotely controllable and can run on any schedule you set. If the digital signage in the morning is showing a video of hardware tools, you can create a program that will start displaying a video of groceries during the afternoon.

Works on Any Digital Signage Screen Size

When you create digital signage, PowerPoint will display it on a monitor or television screen of any size. With our software, you can even spread out a single presentation over multiple screens of a video wall setup.

Ultimately, you can radically enhance how you distribute your information when you use PowerPoint – coupled with our DataPoint module – for digital signage. Digital signage, to be sure, is the best way to showcase new business or public information of all kinds. All you need to get started is a screen, a computer and PowerPoint – and you’re on your way.