(Part 2) Digital Signage Apps Make Content Creation Easy

Digital signage apps are an easy way to bring pre-formatted content to your screens and attract more eyes to your displays. We covered several general uses for digital signage apps for all types of operations in part 1. There you get to know apps for broadcasting news and weather, as well as ready-to-use content channels of intriguing facts on an array of topics, among others. 

In part 2 we look at apps in more specific contexts. While they may be primed for use in certain scenarios, as you go through them, try to think of ways you can apply them to your own needs. Let’s start off with the simplest app of all.

Clock apps

They truly are the most common apps in the digital signage world. After all, everyone needs to keep track of time. 

The style of the clock app you plan on using matters. You want it to match the theme and other content on your displays. That’s easy to achieve. All of them are fully customizable. But more important is the purpose, which is why there are so many of them! Take a look.

A selection of clock apps for digital signage

If you find tracking multiple time zones at once is important, at airports, hotels or international banks, for instance, you need a multi clock app to cover three time zones at once. 

Holiday countdowns as well as weather-time and date-time combinations are also available. This is where screen splitting comes in handy, in case you don’t want to dedicate too much of your screen to entire weather and time setups. Countdowns and timers are valuable tools, for event or sale countdowns, for example.

Meeting room and calendar apps

Providing a visual kick for your external audience with digital signage apps is top of mind. But don’t forget the potential of digital signage apps for internal use! Connect your calendar to meeting room apps to highlight which meeting is taking place where and when it will end. You can also showcase upcoming scheduled meetings and events taking place. This way, with easy to see availability, you ensure efficient use of meeting rooms. When we say meeting rooms, the same goes for conference rooms at hotels or business centers with an even broader audience than within your company.

Preview of the meeting room schedule app

Additionally, speaking of apps for internal use, consider using reminders. They’re ideal for broadcasting across multiple displays. Birthdays, anniversaries, employee of the month announcements, or any other type of information relevant to your business can be set up in a quick and visually pleasing manner. This type of use is great to maintain not only staff efficiency but also to keep their morale up by recognizing their individuality.

Sports apps

Although sports apps are, surprise surprise, typically used for sports, brainstorm on how the following uses can be applied to your own digital signage requirements.

Sports apps involve a variety of tables. These are great for posting score updates in any activity. You can customize the app appearance by changing the table components, as well as the background image. Maybe you have a company internal or industry wide competition going. Create that competition spirit that drives your team to strive. 

Preview of the sports table app

Combine these apps with some of the digital signage apps we covered in part 1, such as RSS feeds, sports content feeds, and announcement apps, and you already have a rich content rotation on your hands.

Finance apps

The most recent currency exchange rates or general news in the field of finance are perhaps not the most exciting pieces of information for most displays, but there are locations where they are more than relevant. 

Banks are the first location that comes to mind for using finance apps. A scrolling currency exchange app fits in nicely on the bottom or side of any bank screen. Add some news on finance, guidelines for users, and a hint of entertainment, and you have an automated content rotation set up.

Bus stops, airports, or train stations are high traffic places where people typically hold more than one currency in their pockets. They welcome a display reminding them of the exact value of the new currency they will need to deal with on their trip. As an objective source, it puts into perspective the exchange rates of nearby exchange offices.

Airport apps

Speaking of airports, if your business is in the vicinity of an airport, or if you find that your hotel guests would value flight data, here are a few digital signage apps you could incorporate in your content rotation.

Flight status updates are beyond easy to set up. All you need to do is specify your target airport for which you’d like to have the data, and the app does the rest! Should it fit the customer’s needs, you could dedicate a display solely to this purpose. 

Preview of the digital signage app for airport departures

Otherwise, you can simply include it as an occasional occurrence in between your other campaigns. If want to dedicate only a portion of your content rotation for this, there is a neat little app you can squeeze into one part of the screen to provide it. The Weather+Exchange-Ticker app rotates between a quick note of weather for the specified location and the exchange rate for the currency of your choice. On the OnSign TV platform you find both these apps under the “Other” category.

Preview of the Weather+Exchange-Ticker app

Custom digital signage apps

All OnSign TV apps can be customized to fit your content theme. But if you want to get more customization, you can commission OnSign TV to create your own apps. We've developed hundreds of apps, and all that's needed to get started is your description of the app operation. Many feature requests stand at the ready, since it's likely that your requirements will match one of the existing presets in our pipeline. If that indeed is the case, your app will be created quickly and will be in your hands for free! Of course, you’d need to be an OnSign TV subscriber to obtain this benefit.

In case you’re not already a user of OnSign TV, remember that you can try it out free of charge with the 14-day trial, no credit card required!


DSE 2020: Here’s What We Would Have Seen This Year!

As you may have heard, Digital Signage Expo has permanently closed its doors with its host company, Exponation, filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Experts in the outdoor advertising world commented that this was not at all surprising. Keep in mind the damage COVID-19 has caused to all public events worldwide, including DSE. 

Experts also added that DSE was an event which turned out to be unsustainable in the long run with attendance not as high as it should have been for an event running for that long. COVID-19 was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. 

Still, it is undeniable that DSE accomplished what it sought out to do and over the years introduced us to some impressive tech developments in the digital signage world. For this reason, let’s take one final look at Digital Signage Expo, some of its highlights from the past, and what we likely would’ve seen had the event taken place in 2020.  

A quick look at last year’s DSE

Before we look at 2020, let’s dig a bit through the past. When last year's DSE wrapped up, we summarized some of the best floor-show products of the event, as well as selected DSE 2019 Apex Awards winners. 

One of these was the ELEVATE interactive solution which triggered content on a display once you picked a product off its sensor stand. 

There were also plenty of examples where digital displays provided a breathtaking experience. For instance, the Indigo Hsinchu Science Park Hotel in Taiwan  was one of last year's winners. This hotel used dozens of displays across the ceiling of a bar solely for the purpose of entertainment. 

Jump over to our highlight article for DSE 2019 to see these products, alongside several others, in more detail. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at what DSE 2020 would’ve brought us. Sadly, this year there are no floor-shows to be covered and products most talked about. But we can still turn to the APEX Awards.

APEX Awards for DSE 2020

2020 would've been the year of the 16th annual APEX Awards celebrating global projects done in the digital signage sector along the past year. DSE and DSF had announced 37 finalists from a pool of 115 entries in 12 major digital signage categories. 

We’ll highlight only some of the developments in certain categories but if you’re interested, you can check out the full list of nominees and seek out specific categories yourself.

Awards Category: Entertainment and Recreation

In the Entertainment and Recreation category of the 2020 APEX Awards there was quite something to see. Firstly we have the Harkins Theatres Dumbo Takeover involving digital animation across 40+ displays. The feature shows the baby elephant Dumbo flying from one corner of the establishment to another via these displays.

In the same category is the interactive Penguin Chill Habitat at the Albuquerque BioPark. This groundbreaking immersion exhibit allows visitors to take a scientific journey to the Antarctic Peninsula. Visitors take on the role of scientists as they learn about sub-Antarctic ecology, climate change, and penguin habitats. This exhibit relies on a combination of interactive technology and cleverly detailed interior design to make the experience truly immersive.

The Penguin Chill exhibition opened on July 23rd, 2019 and instantly was a tremendous success with attendance at the BioPark increasing by 80% year-on-year. The Albuquerque Journal reported that this made BioPark "the state's No. 1 most popular attraction”.

Awards Category: Educational Environments

One of this year's APEX award nominees in the Educational Establishments category was Ideum's Deep Dive into the Brain. Located at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, the project took over a year to reach completion. As its name suggests, it is an innovative dive into the human brain. This immersive exhibit allows the visitor to use their fingertips to travel through the brain, down to its microscopic synapses. 

A user interacting with a console, researching the brain

The canvas for this journey is a curved 14' projection wall with a 4k projector to provide 3D imagery. In order to navigate the brain, visitors use a custom console with a display and a joystick.

There is also the Brain Development Wall consisting of 6 displays which show brain development throughout its lifespan. From left to right, users go through the journey of the brain from formation in the womb, across adulthood, and finally to old age. 

Multiple users interacting with a video wall

2020 APEX Awards Category: Healthcare Environments

Given the trajectory of 2020, it's only appropriate to take a closer look at the nominees in the Healthcare Environments category. But even without that reasoning, it’s safe to say that all three of the finalists didn't fail to impress! 

The Wilderverse Connecticut Children’s Medical Center features a solution for the space where children with chronic illnesses receive intravenous infusion therapies. They create their own personalized avatars which then essentially live in the environment established by a collection of interconnected curved displays.

The Sunnybrook Foundation Tap-to-Donate Kiosk features an interactive digital setup for the main lobby of the Sunnybrook Hospital which passively solicits donations. At the same time, the kiosk shares the foundation's impact on the hospital and the community.

The Wall of Heroes, located at the Orlando Regional Medical Health Center, features an interactive display that showcases organ donors. This installation spreads awareness and information on organ donation. It seeks to inspire users to register and highlights the importance and procedures around organ donation. It also acts as a memorial for families.

What does the future hold?

The Digital Signage Federation is the official association of the Digital Signage Expo. DSF has made a statement on the cancellation of DSE. And while they noted they will continue their work to spread digital signage education, we will have to sit patiently and see what comes next. Given the current COVID-19 situation, all public event organizers are holding their breath before they make any solid plans for the future.

Sadly, in this year’s “recap” of DSE, we can’t say we’ll see you next year. But we eagerly look forward to seeing which event will step up to take DSE’s place. The loss of DSE didn’t send a huge shockwave through the industry. Digital signage innovation is still happening every day in all corners of the world, of course. But there will be a need for an event to bring the most innovative solutions the industry has to offer to one place.

For more tech news, check out our article on some of the latest tech developments in the digital signage world.

Why Does Digital Signage Work So Well With Mobile?

Working hand-in-hand, digital signage and mobile devices offer plenty of clear benefits which yield stellar results. Since we’ve already seen just how beneficial this union is, now we seek to understand why it’s so powerful. 

What is it about this combination that makes people whip out their smartphones and choose to connect them to your display? What is the end result you should hope for once this interaction begins? Is there a clear sign that tells you when you’re using mobile interactivity adequately, and which result will tell you that you’re doing it wrong? In this article, we answer all these questions. We start off with the main feature that makes this union possible to begin with. 

The potential of interactivity

Interactivity is the main reason why digital signage and mobile work so well together as it has the greatest potential to engage and influence the viewer. The simplest path to some form of interactivity would be through a QR code any user can scan and take appropriate action on. This is ideal if a potential customer wants to learn more about a product advertised on the display. Scanning the access code allows them to take the information with them and direct them to an online location you want them to visit.

Another common reason people interact with displays is entertainment. Fun and games are always a sure way to catch attention. Of course, interactivity can be done through touchscreen displays. It is most definitely appealing and most convenient for most users, but putting mobile into the mix enables the business to track information and analytics and get something more from that interaction. Let’s talk about that goal.

Continual engagement

The point of mobile interactivity isn’t to give the user a new innovative or fancy way to interact with the display. The reason why we want the user to interact through their own mobile device is so that the engagement continues long after they leave the location of the display. This is where mobile apps come in as they provide additional content for the user and provide you with more engagement opportunities. 

Naturally, this engagement will only continue if you offer the user something worth their time. After all, we can’t expect people to download mobile apps on a whim without getting something in return. Loyalty programs are a great way to persuade people to interact and engage on a higher level, continuously. Remember, mobile interactivity needs to be rewarding for the consumer in order to be appealing. And, ultimately, it needs to be rewarding for you. If you don’t see a boost in your analytics, sales, or customer loyalty, you can safely say that you’re not utilizing the potential of mobile interactivity well.

Powerful analytics tracking

Mobile devices are the perfect way to collect invaluable analytics for any business. But the challenge has always been to get the user to give up this information without discomfort. Digital signage helps us break down this barrier by inviting the user, in no unclear terms, to engage and share information. With a digital display having the potential of displaying a variety of customized content, the connection between business and consumer can feel more genuine, making the user more comfortable. Furthermore, the content can become even more personalized the more you know about the user.

Once the barrier is broken down, the user becomes more connected to the business. As they interact and become a loyal consumer, custom data can be sent to their devices. This is based on their preferences, behaviors, previous purchases, etc.

A crowd of people in the city

As the user opens up and forms a bond, it becomes significantly easier for any business to learn more about customer demographics and their preferences. In the long run, it opens up a clearer road to communication and feedback since—every once in a while as the loyal user interacts—it becomes easier to ask for more specific feedback and obtain specific information in return which is the key to making any business adapt and grow.

Benefits relevant to COVID-19

The global pandemic has successfully made everyone uneasy when it comes to interacting with touchscreens. This is yet another reason and a good opportunity to add mobile interactivity into the mix. Users can feel safer interacting through their mobile devices. It’s another plus for the business to offer the helping hand and make that option available.

Additionally, mobile tech has proven quite useful in other ways. We recently covered some fresh tech developments, and one of them was brought into existence solely because of COVID-19. One of them is BrightSign's BlueFox Count app which uses sensors to count mobile phones in the store. You can then send this data to the store entrance, showing the occupancy of the establishment. Furthermore, this information can be tied to automatic doors which will allow entry only at a certain level of occupancy.

A conduit for social media and creativity

On its own, digital signage is a canvas for creative, eye-catching, and jaw-dropping campaigns bound to spark conversations on Twitter or Facebook. Social media has long been a tool intertwined with digital signage

However, when we take digital signage and add mobile devices into the mix, the potential expands tenfold. The user can now interact quicker and easier than before. With social media access set up on their devices, it’s practically effortless for anyone to make a Twitter post at any given time. So let’s give them something to share! Your customer plays a quick interactive loyalty-program game for which they get a small discount or a special gift. At the game’s end, they get a button offering to share their score on social media. The link is formed and now you have a path to engage that consumer further via their social media accounts. In this instance, the mobile device acted as a bridge between your digital signage and social media.

Also, on the topic of creative campaigns, mobile interactivity is an additional tool in your creative workbench. The content can change based on the user’s input. So you’ll find that any campaign idea you have can now be viewed from a different angle.

Social media engagement

Having discussed social media and interactivity, why not use your social media channels as sources of content? You can share interactions with your users directly on your digital signage. This is a sound way to invite people to interact on the spot, be it to provide feedback or as part of a loyalty program. OnSign TV can help you set this feature up within seconds. You can test it out immediately!

5+ Recent Tech Developments in Digital Signage

While 2020 has proven to be a challenging year for the Out-of-Home industry and digital signage, it hasn’t prevented it from moving forward and pushing several tech developments into the field. In fact, we’ve seen some solutions emerge and grow specifically because of COVID-19 shaking up the world.

While these COVID-19-centered solutions are certainly worth noting, let’s not forget about other advancements coming to us in 2020. Take a closer look!

Light blocking tech developments push forward

Display manufacturer Watchfire has incorporated a light blocking technology for their new digital billboards. As a result, the viewing angle of illuminated billboards narrows from 140 degrees to 60 degrees to comply with zoning regulations without degrading image quality. 

This type of billboard is only visible to the targeted viewer at a position to clearly observe the message. Meanwhile, for anyone located to the sides who is not the direct target of the message, the brightness is blotted out. The setup is ideal for billboards on highways or busy intersections, ensuring those who are at an angle to it won’t be disturbed by the amount of light.

No-contact thermal mirrors 

Many tech developments have been made in particular due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a matter of fact, thermal mirrors are easily at the forefront as multiple manufacturers around the globe have started producing them. They’re an easy way of inspecting if the user in front of it may have an elevated body temperature: a common COVID-19 symptom. One such mirror comes from Creative Realities. It checks temperature in real-time and can also trigger alerts. 

Offices, stores and restaurants which are safely reopening will find thermal mirrors of significant use. Samsung is already using this solution around its main offices. Additionally, the CEO of Creative Realities said he’s “confident the solution will play an indispensable role in helping companies take care of their most valuable assets: their employees, guests and customers.”

Daktronics introduces Big Stream

Daktronics recently announced the release of their new product aiming to bring game day into people's homes. Big Stream is the first streaming technology which streams the video board content directly to fans who aren’t physically at the game. This is primarily beneficial for lower leagues and schools with regularly hosted sports competitions which aren’t broadcast on television. Furthermore, it allows viewers at home to tune in to the content of the game’s video board, allowing for a richer and a more engaging experience, followed up with audio, animations, trivia, and sponsor advertising directly from the video board. 

Families watching sports in the field / on television

“We think students and fans shouldn’t miss out on any season, if that’s possible. And at Daktronics, we believe Big Stream can help with that,” Daktronics market manager Kyle Sydow said.

Panasonic's collaboration-based solutions

In June, Panasonic announced several solutions which focus on providing flexible remote work and an enhancement to learning environments. The following solutions from Panasonic will be available by the end of 2020, some of which already are:

  • PT-LRZ35 Series projectors are ideal for smaller spaces, offering quiet operation while still maintaining image quality. This projector series ensures non-stop operation up to 20,000 hours of essentially maintenance-free operation: a feature present in most of the recent projector series.
  • PT-FRZ60 Series projectors focus on delivering highly visible, clear and bright images in well-lit areas.
  • CQE1 Series professional displays offer four HDMI connections and a standard USB-C terminal for mobile connectivity. The focus is to provide numerous access points for any multi-device requirement.
  • ‘PressIT’ Wireless Presentation System helps make meetings more efficient through easy sharing of information among attendees. After connecting their PC to the room's display in seconds, attendees can immediately share their content to the room's display.

These are only some of the solutions Panasonic is releasing. Be sure to check out the rest on this impressive list!

Technology for maintaining store-occupancy

Another activity that's blossomed due to the COVID-19 pandemic is people-counting! In fact, most stores had to assign a single employee to maintain the number of people inside the store. Now, there are plenty of ways to use technology to do it for you!

A shopper sitting by a supermarket check out

Using digital signage in combination with these solutions can help stores re-open more easily. BrightSign's BlueFox Count app is an excellent example. Using sensors to count mobile phones, it's easy to assess how many people are present in the store. Then, based on occupancy, a display at the entrance can inform visitors on the current rate of occupancy. 

These tech developments prove how the digital signage world is moving forward. We’re excited to see what else emerges from the industry. Events like the upcoming Digital Signage Expo highlight such advances, and we look forward to seeing them! 

Touchscreens In The Time of COVID-19?

Touchscreens have become a significant part of our every-day lives, both outdoors and indoors. Even though COVID-19 may have altered our view and behavior around them, touchscreens aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. While COVID-19 can indeed be transmitted through interactive displays, given the elementary services they fulfill at banks, stores, and other establishments, it’s not realistic to expect or demand everyone to suddenly stop using them. 

Of course, it also isn’t realistic nor responsible to neglect the threat they might pose for the public health at this time. Take a closer look at what you can do to fight the pandemic without putting your touchscreens out of commission! We’ll dig into the guidelines to keep your touchscreens clean and safe to use, alongside some additional tips to ensure your patrons can confidently interact with them.

Clean the touchscreens regularly

If there is one positive consequence of COVID-19 it’s the impact on personal hygiene. 2020 will surely become known in history as the year the entire world started washing their hands more than ever before. All joking aside, this level of cleanliness should also extend to your touchscreens. Sadly, there were plenty of cases of poor touchscreen cleanliness which captured public attention, making people more reluctant to use them even before COVID-19 struck.

Touchscreens should be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as possible, ideally between each use. Although this can be a hassle, it’s the point of cleanliness to strive for. Below, we’ll take a look at a few additional methods to accompany regular display cleaning.

Make cleanliness more accessible

An easy way to raise the levels of cleanliness in your establishment and alleviate any tension in the consumer is to combine hand sanitizer stations and touchscreens. Of course, we don’t mean this literally, but rather to place them in close proximity to one another. This allows users to take the extra step, if they wish to, once they’re done interacting with the touchscreen. 

Bottles and hand sanitizer sprays

Providing disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer to users can grant a greater sense of safety in this situation. A rise in customer satisfaction won’t hurt either! Note that these can run out quickly, so make sure hygiene supplies are always available. An empty hand sanitizing station is a clear sign of neglect and—even if it’s not the case—poor hygiene.

Learn how COVID-19 behaves

The most dangerous information at this time is assuming anything short of a good old-fashioned scrub makes a surface coronavirus-free. Learning as much as you can about the nature of the virus can be of additional help in getting rid of it.

Even though tests have shown that it has a varying lifespan on specific surfaces, it’s safe to say that there is no surface immune to the coronavirus. For instance, while surfaces like copper do have antimicrobial properties, they don't kill the virus upon contact. You also should not rely on any hygienic coating to do the job. While these can improve cleanliness and hygiene overall, they haven’t provided sufficient proof as an effective solution against COVID-19. As we remain hopeful for this to change in the future, it’s best to be safe and clean the touchscreens regularly instead of leaving it up to chance!

Are touchscreen investments wise at this time?

As we said, people might look at touchscreens differently than they did a few months back. But touchscreens are here to stay. They can still be very effective tools. In fact, they can even be useful in the battle against COVID-19. Touchscreens and the availability of self-service lower the need for interaction between people, making social distancing easier to accomplish. Of course, this goal can be achieved only once the aforementioned hygiene standards are met. 

A user interacting with a touchscreen displays

At the very least, touchscreens are excellent alternatives to other self-service tools. A touchscreen is a lot easier to clean than an old-school number pad found on an ATM. Cleaning a touchscreen is a lot easier if it has as few nooks and crannies as possible. For this reason, edge-to-edge touchscreens can be an excellent option.

Additionally, if you’re looking to invest in a touchscreen at this time, ensure the user can interact with them even if they’re wearing rubber gloves or utilizing styluses. 

Accompany touchscreens with other technology

Making additional interaction methods available can be a great way to further reduce health risks and enable more people to use touchscreens. Certain displays have gesture tracking, responding to the movement in front of them. A user might also be able to access the touchscreen through their own smartphone. Commands through voice if privacy of the matter allows are also another great alternative.

Depending on where your touchscreens are and how one can use them, this would be an ideal opportunity to extend their use from interactivity to displaying content. Once a touchscreen remains inactive for a specific amount of time, it could display a reminder on your establishment’s policies, rules, personal hygiene, or any other type of PSA you’d like to share.

These simple guidelines can help you maintain the cleanliness of your establishment. However, one massive plus in this situation is showing your customers that you care. In a way, eliminating touchscreens fully would be the easy way out. Taking on the responsibility to keep them running and maintaining their cleanliness will keep your consumers safe as well as satisfied!