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Digital signage and interactive display predictions 2021

No one could have predicted the events of 2020, but they have had a direct impact on the Sharp Visual Solutions strategy, as Birgit Jackson, commercial director at Sharp Visual Solutions Europe, explains

Predictions we made for the digital display and signage business across Europe in 2020 did not take into account a global pandemic. Little did we know that the focus, and primary trend, for the year would be in supporting people as they ‘Work From Home’.

Working from home is a trend we know will continue into 2021, if not beyond. Not only because we are still very much in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, but because many companies have discovered they have managed to shift their employees to a home working environment without too much disruption to the business.

While some have considered that a return to normal office-based business is not an option, we are starting to see a trend whereby businesses are looking to bring people back into the office for specific purposes. For example, when looking to run workshops, personal interviews, or tasks where face-to-face meetings offer a genuine benefit. Facial expressions and body language are hard to convey over video conferencing tools, so in these instances, the office still has a role to play.

Displays have always been used in offices to share information, but this year the need for information around behaviour, hygiene, and people counts, for example, have increased and displays are the best visible communication platform for this.

The move to greater home working has seen that businesses need to consider security in a completely new way. We believe this will be a trend within the visual solutions industry, as businesses look to find IT support packages that allow employees to connect, collaborate and share information with colleagues in as safe an environment as though they were in the office. This will need to be achieved in the least invasive way possible, allowing employees to be productive as seamlessly as possible.

The Future Workspace
We recently carried out some research on the impact of Covid-19 on the workplace and it found there were positives as well as negatives in the current situation.

One clear positive has been the attitude to remote working and people dialling into meetings. Pre-Covid-19 a lot of meetings were office-based, with only one or two people dialling in. This often created a situation where those joining remotely were seen as being on the fringe of the meeting, and not central to it.

However, with most meetings happening remotely, that culture is changing, as everyone is now included and fully participating in the meeting. Technology allows all users to have the same experience, regardless of location.

As a supplier of office equipment and meeting room displays, we spend a great deal of time thinking about how technology can help employees not only be more productive, but also feel more comfortable and safe in their work environments.

This was why we introduced the Windows collaboration display, as the integrated sensors allow you to define the optimum conditions in your meeting spaces. This is a technology that has truly come into its own this year, allowing those businesses that have started to bring people back into the office to create a space that is comfortable, healthy and safe.

Interactive displays are central to the visual solutions business, but as an industry we need to think about the nature of touchscreens – are people happy to touch them, or do they need some form of anti-bacterial coating, which is something we are actively looking into providing.

Gesture technology is starting to become a trend, allowing users to interact with a screen without the need to touch it, possibly making people feel more comfortable. This is a technology we are looking into at the moment.

As a result, office culture won’t disappear but we do expect that offices will look very different going forward. Much more emphasis on collaboration and meeting spaces, rather than traditional office layouts.

Screen Size and Resolution
Away from the office, the perennial trend within the visual display industry is one around panel size, along with screen resolution. This is very much a natural evolution of display technology, as end users want to view a display that looks like real life, not one that looks like a display. This is where a higher resolution gives you that opportunity, as you can view details without blurring.

To meet the needs of the high-end market, we are set to introduce a 120in display that offers a stunning 8K resolution. It’s not only the panel size that is important but also image quality, delivering picture impressions that fit perfectly into prestigious environments.

Mobile integration within the visual display industry is another continuous trend we will see develop in 2021 and beyond. End users now expect that when they come to a display they can connect and interact with it via their mobile. It is now commonplace to share content directly from your smartphone with a digital display, but we are increasingly starting to see content accessed from the cloud via a mobile and show on screen.