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Digital signage: Step away from the computer and into the retail store

4K has drawn a great deal of attention over the past year as the professional AV world has looked to swallow something more digestible than 3D content. However, despite its prevalence at ISE 2014 and with promotional content already being shot in 4K, many playback solutions still fall short of delivering true 4K. But that begs the question: what is true 4K? Pierre Gillet, VP International Sales, BrightSign, highlighted two defining characteristics: a resolution of 3840×2160 and a frame rate of 60fps.

“The BrightSign 4K is the first player of its kind to successfully playback both,” he added. “BrightSign will announce three models within the new 4K line at InfoComm, and will ship in volume in the summer of 2014.”

With the availability of such rich content for digital signage systems, is it any wonder that the “worlds of retail and entertainment are converging [?] Stores and venues both try to create an experience for the visitor,” commented Gillet. Retailers are encouraging people to step away from their computers, where they can quickly and more conveniently buy items like jeans, and into the store, with digital signage at the helm of attracting shoppers with its engaging content.

BrightSign exemplifies this new found real ‘experience’, with its recent installation at the 26,000 sqft Denim Studio at Oxford Street, Selfridges stores, London, where eight BrightSign players are delivering content to screens in the store’s windows for sales events. Its most prominent window on the corner of Oxford Street and Orchard Street has been converted into a photographic studio featuring eight screens. Two further windows incorporate a mixture of portrait and landscape screens delivering a live feed from Instagram showing customers wearing their own favourite denims. A final window has a looped time-lapse video. A ticker tape based on an RSS feed of Selfridges own content is also a feature of the displays.

For those integrators that may just be starting out in an area in which BrightSign has substantial experience, Gillet offers three pieces of advice to anyone who may not be au fait with digital signage:

1. Think ahead. Although HD is state of the art today, it will look tired in a year’s time, and it costs a great deal more to go out and renew all the hardware than to source 4K screens and players now. They really aren’t that expensive. Similarly, avoid players that don’t support the emerging standards like HTML5.

2. Stability of a signage installation is critical. AV by definition will be right in the customer’s eye and a blank screen is a huge embarrassment and represents significant lost revenue. A warranty is expected, but really users want a player that doesn’t fail in the first place.

3. Consider connectivity. A wired connection is preferable, as it is stable and completely reliable. Whist it is expensive to put in, it can be reused by successive generations of installation. Wireless technology can work perfectly well, but don’t push the boundaries on range. Use a wired connection to bring an access point close to each screen to ensure a stable connection.

And what factors are most commonly overlooked?

“I’d say the total cost of ownership is the most frequently overlooked issue,” commented Gillet. “Without careful planning and research to determine the most reliable hardware for the job, subsequent maintenance and trouble shooting issues can end up being significantly higher than expected.”