Industry News

The iAd Network: Personal Digital Signage

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We are about to witness the largest deployment of digital signage in history.

That's right - the largest deployment of digital signage technology, ever.

How big?

Well, well over 100 million (yes, million) people (translation: sets of eyeballs) will instantly be part of the world's largest digital signage network tomorrow (July 1st) when Apple launches iAd on the iPhone, iPod Touch and, one assumes, the iPad.

The iAd Network: Personal Digital Signage
Apple has laid out its plan with iAd and it's pretty simple - advertisers can embed "interactive" ads inside Apps (I also assumes that eventually - although this hasn't been addressed directly by Apple, yet - ads could be embedded into other services that Apple includes on all iPhones (e.g., Mail, Text Messaging/MMS, Safari).

However, these aren't just banner ads, the ads are interactive such that you can run the ad totally inside the App itself and when you finish the ad, go back to where you were in the App. May not seem like a big deal, but one of the biggest complaints of banner ads is that they take you somewhere on a website that you may not want to go - thus, many people never click on them.


Bell Micro Signs Pan Euro Agreement with Minicom DS

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Bell Micro will distribute and support a wide range of Minicom DS products, services and solutions and will specialize in providing end-to-end Digital Signage solutions to its European sales channels.

Minicom DS

Bell Micro made a strategic decision to enter the growing Digital Signage market over 3 years ago. In order to strengthen its portfolio, Bell Micro contracted alliances with various Digital Signage industry vendors such as screens, players and software vendors. Bell Micro is now able to offer a complete Digital Signage solution complemented by Minicom DS’s media infrastructure solutions.

Bell Micro, a Fortune 1000 company is one of the world's largest IT storage-centric value-added distributors with revenues of over €1.3 billion in Europe (and $3bn world-wide).

Go Bell Micro acquired by Avnet in April 2010

Go Minicom Digital Signage

More from ScreenMedia Expo Round-Up

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Out and about

Before entering the show hall, visitors were greeted by two buses parked just outside. One was showing the Pink Banana creative agency’s content and the other one was from Screen Forum. The later was used to take visitors to see the Westfield Shopping centre. Westfield is the first fully digital shopping centre and it is located in Shepherds Bush, west London. The mall houses a vast internal screen network installed and managed by CBS Outdoor and an external system operated by Ocean Outdoor.

In addition to the tour The Screen Forum hosted 'The Green Party' - Screen Forum Members and Expo Exhibitor's Drinks Reception - to launch the 'Green Screen' initiative. The initiative aims to produce a set of sustainable guidelines for companies operating in the digital signage sector.

Bits AV was at the show with a new proposition: rent your digital signage. The packages came in three different flavours and worked out at less than a fiver a day. The deal is that you rent your signage for three years and at the end of it you can purchase it if you want.

The lowest package is the reception package, for £64.80 a month. Then is the Boardroom/meeting room package for £120.43. The higher end which included videoconferencing for £268.03 per month. The promotion was lunched at the show; we’ll have to see whether the market is ready for some ‘hang and bang’.

New technology

PSCo showed Prysm for the first time in the UK. The companies have partnered to bring to market the new Laser Phosphor Display (LPD) technology in the UK. The display works by a laser beam stimulating the phosphor material and creating a high resolution image.


The new LPD range is due to be available from June 2010. The 25” panel tiles are designed to be completely bezel-less with a 0.2mm seam. The cubes can be arranged to form a large panel display.

A bit of celebrity bling
Winner of the Apprentice TV show Yasmina Siadatan and her boss Simon Sugar – son of Sir Alan Sugar, were present at this year’s Screen Expo. Yasmina presented the last session of the DOOH Media Summit.

Sir Alan has recognised the importance of the Dooh Networks and digital signage company Amscreen is part of his portfolio of companies. Amscreen is going from strength to strength.

On its latest deal, the company was appointed by Shell as its exclusive digital signage provider in a five year contract. Amscreen's close proximity signage units will be installed in approximately 580 of Shell's company owned sites from April 2010 confirming Amscreen as the number one digital signage provider in the country.

Amscreen's forecourt network will now run across over 1,500 locations and deliver an audience of over 35 million people every fortnight. Every major petrol retailer is part of Amscreen's forecourt network including BP, Esso, MRH Retail, Euro Garages and Motor Fuel Group. All of these screens will carry customer information, live traffic updates, advertising for in-store promotions as well as messages from national and regional advertisers.

The network across all sites uses Amscreen's bespoke 'plug and play' technology, which allows screen content to be updated remotely and in real time without the need for any extra cabling or IT infrastructure on site.

DS is a bullish industry with much to offer and a lot to get. Big players, such as Intel or Christie, that had been looking at this market from the corner of their eyes, are now fully involved and pushing this industry forwards. The future for DS is multi screen, interactive and multi dimensional.

However, the general consensus is that the DS industry needs standardisation. DS is at the moment a fragmented collection of several hundred technology and solution providers, each of them providing one piece of the puzzle in the digital signage eco-system.


ScreenMedia Expo Round-Up

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ScreenMediaExpo (5th edition) in London was a busy show with over 3,000 visitors and 120 exhibitors.

Christie was showing its new signage specific product, MicroTiles. Intel was showing how its chip can fit in the Digital Signage (DS) ecosystem with a plethora of partners sharing the stand and demonstrating their solutions. Harris Broadcasting, continues venturing from the broadcast industry going deeper into the DS market. Sony was showing its Ziris product line and NCR showcasing its Netkey digital signage solution, a software that helps companies develop, deploy and manage networks of digital signs and interactive kiosk solutions. A big player missing from the show stands was Samsung.

Christie at ScreenMedia Expo

Sharing the knowledge
To show digital signage in all its glory you need to show how it works within its digital eco-system. There is no use in showing, for instance, a screen with no content or capacity to share content within a network. The exhibitors at Screen Expo knew this and several chose to team up with other companies to show what they do best and how they fit with each other.

Intel was one of these as was MiniCom Digital Signage, who also runs the Digital Signage Showcase (DSS) providing on-floor education to the end users and integrators. DSS presented an end-to-end solution, giving a bird´s eyes perspective on how to plan, create, rollout and operate a full scale digital signage solution, covering from content creation to measurement.

Minicom also runs the known Digital Signage Experts Tour on the show floor, with the goal to give an overview of the show highlights along the food chain of the typical digital signage application.

As previously announced by rAVe Europe, Minicom showed the first Remote Device Management solution with Proof of Performance capabilities. The solution features a unique Media Feedback Mechanism for Proof of Performance so advertisers in DooH networks can validate and audit advertising for quantity and quality of the broadcasted ad.

Where are the creative agencies?
Something that was missing from the exhibitors at the show was creative agencies that would actually put interesting content in the right format for signage. Pink Banana was showing some of its creative material in the Bus outside the expo.
Creative agency Amigo Digital also had a stand, which was manned by manikins looking into a huge Panasonic screen. Digital production company Grand Visual was also at the show.

Some companies commented that creative agencies had visited the show asking what they needed for DS, which is excellent news since this means that the end user is asking about this.

For next year it would be nice to see a stronger presence of the creative side on content creation.

However; two companies came to the rescue with an interesting proposition for people needing to fill their screens fast. One was Doohstuff, which provides images to use on signage background or to be used as icons. Piet Hein Goosens from Doohstuff, explained that, unlike Getty Image, where the customer is charged by the way and the frequency in which the image will be used, Doohstuff offers unlimited use of the photographs bought, no questions asked. ‘This is a much more convenient deal for customers,’ he remarked. 

Doohstuff is a Dutch based online content database with a 100 per cent focus on digital signage. All people can search in our database for up to 100,000 HD clips, 2.5 million stills and the weather news from the entire globe. Next to this Doohstuff provides editing and consultancy services to upgrade every screen worldwide.

A promising company highlighted at Rave - and creating some stirs at Screen media Expo 2010 - was Flypaper Studio. Flypaper provides a simple to use Flash Content Creation Platform that can very quickly turn a simple presentation into an interactive signage solution with no previous programmer knowledge needed. 

In fact, at the show, Turkish company Digital Panorama ( which was exhibiting at the Intel stand, went and bought the Pro software from Flypaper and on the second day of the show it had an interactive presentation on a touch screen using Flypaper’s tools and its interactive solution.  Digital Panorama will be opening an office in Leeds by June, offering its 3D content creation, management and delivery of interactive messages.

With the creative agencies not having a big presence at the show floor, Screen Media Expo had a space for the advertising, marketing and communications professionals to meet, learn and do business at the DOOH Expo – a dedicated show-within-a-show for the digital out-of-home media community. No technology there, just a space for networking.

From 2D to 3D and into the 4th screen
At this year’s Screen Expo there was a lot of hype about the implementation of 3D for DS and the increased use of the 4th screen, that is the mobile phone, for audience engagement.

Various sceptics doubt that DS will ever go 3D. 3D ready screens are inefficient  for DS with only one of two hot spots. If companies opt for stereoscopic images, people will be unlikely to want to wear 3D glasses when shopping to enjoy the advertising.

However research company Futuresource, on the Futurology conference, said that the DS industry should watch out for 3D. ‘3D is a hot topic in the tech world at the moment,’ said Futuresource researcher Mike Fisher, ‘3D is impacting the end user market driven by the 3D cinema phenomenon.’ He said that 3D is definitely getting into our living rooms with a forecast that by 2014 all 40in and above flat panel TVs sold will be 3D ready.

‘3D will be used for entertainment, not to watch the news,’ Fisher clarified, ‘but the way that the public interacts with 3D images is changing and DS needs to start thinking about this medium for brand immersions and other marketing experiences.’
3D, according to Futuresource, could be a game change for DS that will provide value-add to customer’s campaigns.

Ivan Franco, from YDreams, also thinks that the intuitive interaction that augmented reality provides is here to stay and grow. YDreams has been involved in projects with giants such as Coca Cola and Adidas where they created an immersive brand experience, which also used mobile phones for interaction.

On the content creation side, companies such as Zero Creative (3DZignage) and Magnetic 3D offer fully web-based and interactive 3D digital signage for glasses-free 3D digital content. Magnetic 3D, a global provider of glasses-free 3D display and 3D digital signage solutions, is working with Signagelive, a Software as a Service (SaaS) digital signage platform, on this project.
The 2010 event attracted first timers such as Intel, and new themes including mobile integration and 3D arrive new to the show.

More ScreenMedia Expo news

2010 Digital Signage CHAMP Awards

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rAVe DS [Digital Signage] in USA releases their 2010 DS CHAMP Award winners.

Includes categories such as Best New DS Product 2010, Best New DS Technology 2010, Most Innovative New DS Hardware Product and Best NEW Indoor DS Display along with a dozen other categories

Go We Are The Champions

InfoComm Ups the Digital Signage Ante

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digital signage

InfoComm International has been putting out programmes on digital signage for more than 5 years, but this year they are ramping up to match the swell in market interest.

For example, InfoComm is partnering with NewBay Media to offer a new virtual Digital Signage event on April 22, 2010.

And the InfoComm 2010 event (June 9-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center) will feature the world's largest Digital Signage exhibition. The show will include a Digital Signage Pavilion, with exhibits showcasing displays, mounts, and networking and software solutions.

InfoComm 2010's Digital Signage Application Showcase, now in its 4th year, will feature digital signage in fully-integrated environments.

Beyond the show floor, InfoComm 2010 will feature a full array of digital signage training. Plus, InfoComm has also partnered with the Strategy Institute, to offer a two-day Digital Signage Technology Summit June 7-8.

Throughout the year, InfoComm offers training related to digital signage but

Go Virtual for Digital Signage

Go In-Person for Digital Signage, InfoComm 2010

Digital Signage vs. Digital Signage: Round 1

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Okay, so sorting out what has happened in the brouhaha between the two year old Digital Signage Association (DSA) and the month-old Digital Signage Federation (DSF) hasn’t been easy, but it has been entertaining.

Actually, it’s been like the reading equivalent to watching the slow-motion reel from a prize fight. In real time, there were some fast punches, some awkward responses, and then someone was on the floor.

Let’s recap, shall we? Exponation, the producer and owner of Digital Signage Expo, announced the formation of the not-for-profit DSF on February 17, one week before Expo. Stressing the fact that DSF is a non-profit is a finger in the eye to the DSA, who has long been tied to their parent company NetWorld Alliance for funding. The terms of the DSA/NetWorld Alliance relationship was often a sore point for the industry and there were accusations of NetWorld influence over the DSA.

At the time of the DSF announcement, a Web site was already in place, as was the interim board. While the announcement itself may have been a small surprise, it seems like Exponation had put key elements in place before opening their collective mouths to tell the industry.

Meanwhile, the DSA was caught a bit flat-footed. David Drain, executive director of the DSA, and Bob Michaels, president of Magenta Research and an active DSA board member, both tell me that a full board meeting was already planned to happen at Expo. On the voting docket was changing DSA’s status to a non-profit. “NetWorld has been our incubator for the past two years, and now it’s time to gain our independence,” says Drain. And Michaels swears that in the year-plus he’s been involved with the DSA, he never saw any undue influence from NetWorld.

Fair enough. So on February 24 (right in the middle of Expo), DSA announces they are incorporating as a non-profit and are securing proposals with trade show companies to establish a digital signage show and conference of their own! According to their announcement, “DSA is set to announce its plan by May 3 for a conference & trade show to be held in 2011.”

(DSA was a very visible sponsor at Expo, too. Awkward!) So net-net, here’s what we have. In one corner, there’s the DSA – older, many more members, switching to non-profit status, and seeking to start their own show. In the other corner, there’s the DSF – very new, a handful of members, a non-profit from the get-go, and sharing the parent company who owns and operates Digital Signage Expo.

A few issues are up in the air. First is that when I contacted the DSF during the week of March 15, the response I got from Angelo Varrone, CEO of Exponation, was this: “My company’s role, as producer of DSE, is to support the start-up of the independent, not-for-profit organization. We helped get it started and backed the initial launch at DSE 2010, but we don’t speak for the organization. There is an interim board and they are in the process of holding elections for officers. Because of this there is no one who could or would speak to you officially or on the record at this point prior to the upcoming election (which won’t occur before your deadline).”

Okay, so big splash of an announcement and then there’s no one to speak for the DSF? Why not hire a talking head PR flack in the interim? (There are plenty of them who are out of work right now and would welcome the assignment.)

Second issue is that DSA really was a big supporter of Digital Signage Expo (and we can only assume that relationship is over.) Drain says that “we’ve had a good relationship with industry trade shows. In announcing our plans, we want to create a world-class show for the industry.” Ouch! So all eyes on DSA for 2011 to see what world-class really means, I guess. And eyes on Expo 2011 to see who steps up to replace DSA as a sponsor.

So, I also had to ask Drain about comments made by Adrian J. Cotterill, editor-in-chief of the Daily DOOH, that called the DSA “arrogant” and “dawdling.” Drain says he was taken aback by those comments. He points to the openness of the DSA and their willingness to communicate via groups like LinkedIn and Facebook, and really found no evidence of arrogance.

Drain also says that in the past 60 days, their memberships have grown from 425-ish members to over 450 now. So, is more being made of this rift than need be? His response: “I think so.”

So, who will win this fight? Only time will tell. DSF has attracted some big names like NEC Display Solutions, Harris Corporation, and Wendy’s International to their board. A rush of members from DSA to DSF will tip the boat in their favor, for sure. In the meantime, Michaels urges that industry members need to make their own educated decision as to which one to choose. I couldn’t agree more.

Linda Seid Frembes is a rAVe columnist who covers AV technology, installs, market trends and industry news. Linda has worked with high profile AV manufacturers, trade organization, systems integrators, rep firms and dealer/distributors in the industry including John Lyons Systems, Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW), Northern Sound & Light (NSL), and InfoComm International, among others. Reach her at linda (at)

Go Digital Signage Association (DSA)

Or go Digital Signage Federation (DSF)

Ouch! Nortek Files for Bankruptcy Protection

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In USA, Nortek (NTK Holdings Inc.) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after agreeing the restructure plan with $2.78 billion of creditors.

By filing for Chapter 11, Nortek hopes to restructure to eliminate $1.3 billion in debt. Thirty-seven affiliates, including Nortek Inc., also sought protection.

Nortek owns many prominent AV companies including SpeakerCraft, OmniMount, Elan, Magenta Research, Niles, Panamax, Gefen, Xantech, Panamax and others.

Nortek released a statement on Sept. 3 that says, "…the company's operating subsidiaries remain well supported with cash on hand in excess of $170 million as of August 31, 2009." Nortek secured a commitment for a $250 million asset-based revolving line of credit earlier in October as part of its pre-packaged reorganization plan.

So it seems the subsidiaries are less affected at this point, despite the vulnerability of the parent corporation. Bankruptcy in this case end with a come-back or the group could see a new owner step in, or watch a sell-off of subsidiaries piece-by-piece, including-- one supposes—some management buyouts.

Typically in this situation, if some subsidiaries are bleeding much more than others, the parent has to abandon these ships to save the fleet. Any subsidiaries that are cash-positive will become the lead ships.

Key financial highlights for Q2 2009 include: Net sales of $488 million compared to $647 million recorded in 2008 and an operating loss of $216 million compared to earnings of $46.9 million in Q2 2008. Clearly Nortek is another victim of the global recession as its Home Technology Products suffered a 23.9% decline in sales in Q2 when it had probably been accustomed to double-digit sales growth.

Nortek chairman and CEO Richard L. Bready says: "We continue to believe that Nortek has fundamentally sound businesses operating in established markets that are poised for growth as economic conditions improve. The Chapter 11 process will enable Nortek to emerge as an even stronger company with substantially less debt. Going forward, we anticipate no disruption in product availability or delivery of products and remain focused on meeting customer needs worldwide."

Go Nortek Files Chapter 11 in USA

NCR Buys Netkey

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Netkey logo

 NCR Corporation purchases the assets of Netkey, a provider of kiosk and digital signage software apps used by in multi-industry self-service apps such as gift registry, guided selling, endless aisle and human resources functions.

Terms were not disclosed.

Netkey's enterprise software platform uses a scalable architecture to enable development of apps for kiosk and digital signage-based solutions.

NCR will combine Netkey's software platform with its own technologies to provide a best-in-class enterprise solution, which includes software apps, one of the broadest hardware portfolios in the industry, and a suite of services. NCR will continue to provide multi-vendor hardware support with the Netkey solution.

Netkey has over 75,000 kiosks and digital signs installed by more than 400 clients in the retail, finance, transportation, and government sectors. Many of these customers also use NCR's kiosk, self-checkout or POS solutions.

Go NCR Buys Netkey