The Digital Signage Insider

Make your Kiosks and Digital Signs Smarter, Friendlier

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Some recent news from Global Display Solutions and NextWindow suggests that there are good things in store for interactive kiosk and digital media network owners.  The first bit of news is actually from a joint press release between these two companies about fitting GDS displays with NextWindow touch screen overlays.  NextWindow, whom I've mentioned before (in Digital Retailing, Digital Merchandising, Visual Retailing, or Something Else?, and Alternatives to traditional kiosk and digital signage displays)  makes touch screen overlays for large screens like plasmas and LCD monitors, and also a through-glass technology that lets you turn any flat, clear surface (think store windows) into touch panels.  Bringing their technology to a global supplier like GDS means that we should be seeing more large screen touch screen displays soon.

And with all of these large, touchable screens out there, it would be nice to know how they're functioning, since a $3,000-$5,000 touch screen isn't really doing anything for your business if it's shut off.  That's where this next GDS press release comes in, noting that they are now offering a module for all of their screens that will allow for remote diagnostics and troubleshooting.  A number of plasma and LCD makers already include support for remote control via RS-232 (and in fact, our FireCast kiosk and digital sign software has the ability to remotely control this), however the command sets vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even from model to model, so adding support for the latest screens can mean custom engineering.  Hopefully the standardized approach that GDS appears to be taking will catch on with other manufacturers, and we look forward to adding support for their controllers into FireCast.

So with large display touch screens becoming more common, one must ask where to draw the line between digital sign and interactive kiosk.  Obviously an interactive kiosk must be interactive, however, if you're interacting with a 42" plasma screen on a stand, is it still a kiosk?  I think it is.  And isn't that plasma also a digital sign, especially when it's not in use and just cycling through content in an attract mode?  Yes, I think so too.  I've written about the convergence of kiosks and digital signs before,  and the trend definitely seems to be gaining strength. With greater product availability and lower prices, it's easier to get that "wow" factor than ever before.  Whether it will get customers talking, using, and most importantly, buying, is still unclear.  However, by combining the best elements of digital signage and self-service kiosks (both of which seem to work well in the majority of environments), I'm optimistic about it.


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