Digital Signage Summit Europe took place in sunny Munich at the Internationales Congress Center München on the 5th and 6th July, 2017. 

With almost 700 digital signage and digital out of home (DooH) professionals in attendance, this, the 11th DSS, was the best attended, with an increase of over 50% on last year’s event.

The event had the theme, “Digital Signage at the Crossroads – New Technology, Changing Demand and Market Consolidation”.

The conference was co-created by invidis consulting and leading audiovisual, integration and IT industry event managers Integrated Systems Events, which is a joint venture between CEDIA and InfoComm International. The event also followed hot on the heels of Infocomm 2017, which incorporated their new TIDE conference in Orlando.

Mike Blackman ISE

Integrated Systems Events Managing Director, Mike Blackman

There were many cross overs with the visitor attractions industry, including the increasing importance of augmented reality (AR), immersive environments, utilising signage to maximise revenue and manage crowd flow and most importantly to get clear brand messages out – vital for any attraction.

I have picked out three overarching themes that stood out to a ‘Digital Signage’ newbie.

1. Immersion

Interactive Media Specialist, Daniele Tome at  TouchWindow summed it up very well.

“The objective has changed – from, ‘what can I sell you?’ to ‘what can you experience?’”

The only way to make a customer physically enter a high street shop, it to make the experience memorable, and deliver something special that can’t be achieved when purchasing online.

Holovis partners E2M Technologies to create next-gen immersive experiences

Holovis’ immersive next-gen experiences

Attendees heard from HolovisDave Elliot who discussed the rising trend of immersion.

From pain simulators (Holovis have actually designed these for construction workers to simulate a car crash) to gamification in queue lines, the company’s work spans many industries, not just world-firsts in theme park attractions. The opportunities are endless to use AR/MR/VR to use the senses to make lasting memories- fun fact, smell is the longest lasting memory.

Elliot talked about present day applications such as the Lego group, which has started using AR in their stores to bring their boxes to life, as well as new technologies such as driverless cars and touch screens with textures.

However, we should take caution, said Sabine Kreig, Head of Segment Retail, Vitra International. “We have to focus on the now as well as what is coming next”.

2. Data

Not surprisingly, data and analytics was a strong theme. We heard from Mike Macmillan, Cofounder of Shopper Lab, whose company has created software that uses eye-tracking studies to predict where guests will look. This can then be used for any sort of advert/campaign with 96% accuracy. Uploading an image to their platform will get you a response in seconds and help inform the impact of campaigns.

Shopperlab eye tracking for retail

Heatmaps by Shopper Lab’s eye tracking software

In his keynote speech, Invidis Consulting’s Managing Director Florian Rotberg spoke about the advancement of “Smart Cities”. Singapore is leading the way, aiming to be the first smart nation – “not too hard when the whole city is the entire nation” joked Rotberg.

Singapore is one of the most sensor-rich places and demographically monitored places on earth. With all this data Singapore has created an entire city in 3D visualisation. Every window and doorway, but also traffic data, energy consumption metrics, the census numbers and so much more. It is using the tool in so many ways, such as disaster simulation, planning access for the disabled and creating transport routes. All thee initiatives are designed to make people’s lives easier.  There would be many applications for this for the Singapore attractions industry too no doubt.

“Technology won’t limit smart cities – it will be what is culturally acceptable” said Rotberg.

In a smart age, companies will need to be sensitive to permissions, especially in Europe where the laws are much stricter than in the US. However, technology is already there for those that opt out.

“We can scrub out anyone who opts out of being filmed” said Macmillan. “We know their height and depth so can remove them easily”.

Companies also need to be vigilant in using their data correctly.  For example, iBeacons are a useful tool to send push notifications. However, if customers received ad after ad when walking down the street, the ads would lose their impact.

Networking at Digital Signage Summit 2017

Networking at Digital Signage Summit Europe 2017

3. Seamless-ness

One new technology has disrupted digital signage although it doesn’t even have an interface. This is Amazon Echo and its sales are growing. It is making consumer’s lives more connected and as such, seamless.

Mona Wehbe, Managing Director of Vectorform, demonstrated their project working with an online cooking magazine. The company developed the integration with Echo so consumers could ask Alexa to read aloud a recipe, with the capability for it to know if there are enough ingredients in one’s ‘internet of things’. It can then order ASAP through Amazon’s grocery department.

Amazon Alexa cooking

“Alexa- How much cheese is too much cheese?”

Traditional signs can still be used to make operations easier and more efficient at an attraction or venue. We heard from Steve Rickless, CEO of TriplePlay how signage can be linked to real time EPOS systems, to maximise revenue.

For example, if you wanted to shift old stock, or even perishable food at the end of the day, with a click of a button you can promote these items across the venue. You can also manipulate crowd control by promoting concessions or parts of the venue, as well as offering real-time travel advice all through one central management platform. Again, this technology is hugely applicable to the attractions industry. Rickless’ examples were stadiums (in which they are a big name) however the platform would be useful for anywhere with larger numbers of guests.

Munchen ICM Digital Signage Summit 2017

The ICM, venue for the Digital Signage Summit 2017

With two packed days of talks, an award ceremony and an evening reception sponsored generously by InfoComm, I head home, and will never look at signage in the same way again.

Images kind courtesy: Shopperlab, TrendsWatch.