VMSD - October 2011 - (Page 18)
NEX T STORE
By Jim Crawford
Digital projection brings “thinking outside the box” to a whole new level.
DIGITAL SIGNAGE IS hardly a new idea in retail design. In fact, many of us have had the experience of walking through a store and, upon seeing a particularly clunky kiosk or blocky plasma TV bolted onto a fixture, thought to ourselves, “2003 called and wants its digital signage back.” The biggest problem isn’t digital signage as a concept. It’s the tools designers think of as digital signs. The core underlying technologies that power visual
tal and what’s physical into a seamless design. One recent high-profile example of digital paint was introduced into Walt Disney World’s iconic fireworks display over Cinderella’s castle. A Disneybased story is projected onto the front of the castle from a group of high-definition projectors. The scenes blend into the physical environment with characters climbing up towers and around windows and “fireworks” shooting across the front of the castle
Digital projection can bring new surfaces to life, as shown here with digital paint applied to the Sydney Opera House (left) and video integration with a product display.
displays have shifted radically in the past decade, yet somehow our vision for applying those technologies to retail design remain stuck in the past. But a new concept has arrived that opens a number of doors for today’s store designers if applied in innovate ways: digital projection. Recent advances in this technology have pushed the capabilities of digital projectors in two paradoxical directions, as the big have gotten bigger and the small have gotten smaller.
Big & bold First, let’s look at the big. Today’s larger-format projectors are capable of ultra-high resolution projection with enough light to show clearly in all but the brightest sunlight. When combined with the sophisticated 3-D rendering capabilities of today’s computers, designers now have at their disposal “digital paint” that can be overlaid on both interior and exterior surfaces. What makes this such an intriguing concept for designers is that unlike previous projection that showed on a screen (either a 4:3 or 16:9 widescreen), digital paint appears directly onto the environmental surface. It’s not constrained to a rectangle-box shape. This means that unique geometries, like curves and corners, can be digitally painted, blurring what’s digi18 OCTOBER 2011 | vmsd.com
in concert with the real fireworks up in the sky. Other designers have used digital paint on interiors to replace wallpaper and signage. Add enough projectors and you can even create a “Star Trek” holodeck-like experience where every surface around the viewer is digitally enhanced and immersive.
Small & streamlined But just as projectors have gotten powerful enough to catapult the shopper into a 24th Century, virtually enhanced environment, they’ve also shrunk down to tiny proportions. This enables designers to integrate digital projection into previously impractical places, like individual shelves, displays and wall niches. This evolution in projectors has led to a slimming down in all areas, including resolution, brightness, power consumption and, most importantly, price. Called “pico projectors,” these tiny marvels are about the size of a cell phone and range in price from $100 to $400. They generally use LEDs or lasers in lieu of the traditional LCD technology to create colors, which results in a dramatically dimmer image. But they can be used to bring the concept of the digital fixture to life, allowing individual shelves, gondolas and surfaces to display digital content from a tiny device to a roughly 15-square-foot area.
COU RT ES Y OF OBS CU RA DIG I TA L ; CO U RT E SY OF TA B E RNA RE TA I L
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - October 2011
VMSD - October 2011
From the Editor
VMSD Editorial Advisory Board
Grazing in Their Own Backyards
This Express Goes Uptown and Down
VMSD - October 2011