Tech You Missed from the Digital Signage Expo/East

By Christina Volpe | September 23, 2008

Now that the price for plasma and LCD monitors is falling, are you one of the many hotel or restaurant operators who are shopping around for a digital signage solution? Be it content, advertising solutions, or digital signage platforms and displays, last week's very first Digital Signage Expo/East, held in Philadelphia, PA showcased the industry's top suppliers and products and Hospitality Technology was there to speak with vendors about their latest and greatest offerings.

Images that pop
Are you looking for a solution that really jumps out and grabs your guests' attention? Philips' 3D Solutions, an offshoot of Royal Philips Electronics, takes the realistic feel behind 3D movies and channels it into a wide range of end-to-end autostereoscopic 3D solutions, minus the need for those retro 3D glasses. The WOWvx 3D display is based on high definition panels that can display content in both 2D and 3D that allow images to come alive. The Philips 3D display reuses 2D content and creates or adapts existing applications for the 3D display through a 3D data format called 2D-plus-Depth. The 2D-plus-Depth format is compatible with existing production equipment and compression tools and ensures 3D application performance. It also decouples content creation from content visualization and allows applications to use different 3D display screen sizes and designs in the same system. The 2D-Plus-Depth format has been standardized by MPEG as a 3D video standard.

Content woes combated
When speaking with operators, one of the biggest challenges that they face today has to do with the type of content displayed on digital signage boards. What happens when there isn't enough advertising to run or if there isn't an event or meeting occurring at the hotel? The Australian-based Genr8 offers operators a digital display content solution that mixes advertising with entertainment content through ten different entertainment channels. Each Genr8 channel consists of one hour of content that is divided into short clips and is refreshed with a minimum of 30 minutes of new content each month. Files are delivered to a password protected ftp site each month for download. Genr8's current channel library includes: "Glamour" fashion channel, "Summer Days" beach channel, "Our World" nature and environment channel, "Fame" celebrity channel, "Destinations" travel channel, "Nuts" the weird and wacky channel, "1080" high definition channel, "Edge" sports and extreme channel, "Serenity" health and lifestyle channel, and "Exchange" business and finance channel.

Plug and play platforms
With a content plan in place, operators will need a way to manage it. SmarterSign's digital signage platform offers users a solution that allows for easier content management and scheduling. Its solution, the SmartSign Player, is a small form-factor pc that can be connected to any display while the SmartSign Manager enables complete control over the digital signage network.

At less than 2" thick, the plug and play SmartSign Player features an Intel Core 2 Duo, a dual video out that allows each player to control up to two screens of content and is resolution and orientation independent. SmartSign Player v2.3 provides control over digital signage playback.

The SmartSign Manager is a web-based application that is designed for control over a digital signage network from and computer as long as there is an Internet connection. Key features include drag and drop tools for quick creation and modification, access to hundreds of SmartSign's content library customizable designs, and complete control over user permissions. The SmartSign Manager also supports jpg, gif, png, swf, avi, mp4, and mov formats.

Dynamic networks
Wireless Ronin Technologies' RoninCast is a dynamic digital signage network solution that combines scalable, secure, enterprise-compliant, proprietary software with off the shelf or customer owned hardware. This integrated solution creates a network capable of controlling content management through the Master Controller. The Network Manager allows for the set up of digital signage networks to create groups or subgroups for specific content distribution. Additional applications allow for the creation of scheduled deliveries, data mining, differentiating display zones, directional mapping for guests, meeting room presentation functionality, 3D capability and interactive product selection.

Converged out-of-home advertising
For those looking to advertise their business off property, Scala offers a solution that combines digital with traditional signage systems into a network of displays that are centrally managed. Scala's integration of MISC's Charting Pro with their InfoChannel product allows advertising campaigns to span digital, static, and mobile applications that are all managed by one system in terms of distribution, scheduling, and content management. Key features of the integration include the management of media with demographics and geographic characteristics, inventory management, campaign planning, account management, and production automation.

Professional grade LCDs
At 82 inches, the MultiSync LCD8205 is NEC Display Solutions of America's largest LCD professional grade display. The LCD8205 can be installed in portrait or landscape orientation or tiled together for a video wall up to four displays high and four displays wide. Automatic ambient light sensors monitor changing light conditions to optimize the brightness level to the environment. The new display performs with high brightness for easy viewing in bright rooms, a 5000:1 contrast and 1920 x 1020 HD resolution. Additional features include an optional protective panel, five picture modes for quick user optimization of viewer experience, 8ms response time for full motion, thermal video protection and internal heat sensors for increased longevity, inputs including DVI, HDMI, composite, SVideo, RCA, RS232 control and more.

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