Signs of the Times - January 2014 - (Page 60)
Signage Made Simple
Even small steps can lead to big changes.
B y D e a c o n Wa rd l o w
he days of Philip K. Dicks' Minority Report aren't
upon us yet, but DS (dynamic digital signage) is definitely growing and showing up in unexpected markets.
Beyond doctors-office infomercials, or the multi-screen
sensational at your local sports bar, businesses are
beginning to see DS solutions as integral to building
and maintaining their brand. Convenience stores,
pharmacies, restaurants, hospitality venues, banks,
retail stores, and even charity and community
organizations are seeking information, proposals and
solutions from their most trusted signage source -
your sign business.
I've seen everything from a $50 digital-photo screen
that runs advertisements on a café bar, to a multilocation, $200,000 installation with integrated live
video and touch-screen interactivity, set to run based
on condition sets (i.e., temperature outside, weather,
sports scores, etc.). The staggering range of DS applications is limited only by your client's imagination
DS can be confusing and daunting on the first, second,
or even third look. It's easy to feel a bit lost with all
the tech terms and geek-speak flying about. This fastgrowing market will be expanding long after the companies that have chosen to "sit back and see" have
moved on. With the confusing lingo, and all the technical
"know how" seemingly required, where does one start?
The first step
Any DS investigation unearths an alphabet soup
of acronyms. The DSF (Digital Signage Federation,
www.digitalsignagefederation.org) and DSA (Digital
Screenmedia Assn., www.digitalscreenmedia.org) are
two of the bigger organizations you'll undoubtedly
discover. You'll find supportive and helpful groups
on social-media sites like www.LinkedIn.com.
Create an account or login, go to Search, enter "digital
signage," select groups, and you'll find several professional groups willing to help guide you in the right
direction. Google+ also has groups that are more
actively supporting both new and experienced DS
There's a push to develop more professional stan60 SIGNS OF THE TIMES January 2014
dards and credentials within the industry, and many
sites offer online courses and resources to help you
begin. Don't be daunted by the terminology; overcome your acronymaphobia, and you'll understand
the myriad options for getting comfortable with DS.
Where to turn
You'll find countless companies that span the gamut
from content creation, management, third-party
"wholesalers," distributors, software/hardware
(sometimes both), and A/V "specialty" organizations
that offer solutions from touch-screen to multiplex
For example, an NYC sign company had an opportunity with a small supermarket chain that was looking
to incorporate DS into its seafood, deli, bakery and
health sections. The first DS provider offered the sign
company a $36,000 (cost) solution for displays, control
systems, initial licensing, and a laundry list of technical requirements. The provider also quoted a persite fee of $6,000 for the displays and control software.
The client would be expected to pay a monthly fee for
"maintenance and support," and renew the license
every four years.
The general "rules" of vetting a vendor/partner
remain. The second company they turned to quoted
them $2,000 per location, using a combination of MS
Office Suite tools and a "simple" solution. The swing
was extreme, and other companies' quotes were either
extremely high or low. Few (if any) really took time
to discuss the project's full scope or the customer's
The sign company walked away from the opportunity; they would help with the static signage, but
they just weren't informed enough to help with the
interior DS systems. They lost the opportunity and
potential additional business because they were
flooded with options, but little education as to their
situation's best solution.
I highly recommend www.dseg.org to familiarize yourself with the DS industry and its various elements.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - January 2014
Signs of the Times - January 2014
Large-Format Design Strategies
The Moving Message
Technology Review - Agfa’s Jeti Titan X
Technology Review - Polytype’s NQ32 UV hybrid printer
GableSigns’ Casino Signs
Dynamic Digital Signage Made Simple
Building Street Cred
Modern Sign Engineering
Signs of the Times - January 2014