Digital signage is emerging as a medium in its own right, claim the organisers of last week_s Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) exhibition at the Amsterdam RAI, writes Richard Dean.
Selling out six weeks before the event, ISE increased show space by 50 per cent on last year, occupying all but four of the halls at RAI. Meanwhile Digital Signage Expo _ the industry_s largest show worldwide _ will open at the end of this month with a third more exhibitors following a move from Chicago to the LVCC in Las Vegas.
Household names in broadcasting including AccuWeather, Barco, Matrox, Panasonic and Sony plus a host of advertising production companies are clambering aboard the burgeoning industry, which began with small groups or even solo displays based on large ruggedised 16:9 LCD or plasma screens.
The business has since evolved into large networks for retail, transport, entertainment, catering and office environments fed by cable, wireless, satellite or internet networks, with some 10,000 screens deployed at a retail park in India last year and a 12,000 to 14,000 screen retail installation slated for Q2 2008 in the US.
IT stalwarts such as Cisco provide sophisticated addressable network control systems, complete with local _failover_ cards of about 2GB capacity to resume default messaging content if a network connection is lost.
The industry is also weaning itself off conventionally-sized screens. At ISE, LG Electronics unveiled a Long Stretched Display video screens measuring 1m wide by 35cm deep, equating to an aspect ratio of some 257:9.
_This shape has a long and successful track record in static imagery, and allows a video image to fit alongside text more comfortably than on a TV-sized display,_ said Commercial Director Roeland Scholten.
On the entertainment front, sales of medium-sized waterproofed TV displays have received a boost from the indoor smoking ban sweeping Europe, which will apply even to the Netherlands within a couple of months.
According to US market research company iSuppli/Stanford Resources, sales of indoor and outdoor _retail dynamic displays_ are predicted to grow from about US $550 million in 2003 to some US $1.5 billion by the end of this year.