The Internet of Things (IoT) describes physical objects with software, sensors, processing ability and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over communicate networks like the Internet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. It has become popular because of Smartphones and digital signs. It is far easier for external physical things to connect with people when they are carrying around a mini PC in their pocket.
What Powers The IOT? What Does Modern IoT Mean?
The technologies being used are varied. Touch screens are helpful, as are the various ways that devices connect. Here are a few examples:
- Cellular routers
- Radio devices
- Cellular modules
- Android and Apple TV
There are possibly hundreds of ways in which the IOT works. People are finding new ways all the time. Even though digital signs have been around for years, they are still babies in the world of technology. LED lights have been around since the 70s but were only adopted on a massive scale just recently. The low costs of technology these days, powered by China’s rock bottom currency, means that even small businesses and larger households can afford digital signs.
People are still finding innovative ways to use digital signs. One such example is a feature in blog.kitcast.tv that discusses blockchain delivery systems being integrated with sensors and tablets so that people can track their packages no matter where they are in the supply chain. Forget a logistics worker having to bring up numbers on a handheld terminal when all they have to do is walk past a digital sign to see its intended short-term and long-term destination.
What if they installed similar technology into airport baggage handling? Porters and loaders would know if a piece of luggage was being misdirected because a digital sign warns them whenever something is misplaced. Mistakes could be avoided by the operator selecting an alternate (and correct route).
Currently Trending Digital Signage IOT Technologies
Here is a short list of the trending IOT technologies and methodologies that involve digital signs. Some may seem old hat already, but this is because the trends seem to visit countries at different intervals.
- Event announcements and venue information
- Branding signage and brand educational content
- Wayfinding and mapping applications to guide visitors
- Directories and information terminals
- Time-sensitive promotions or warnings
- Roadside alerts and emergency messages
- Welcoming and goodbye messages to visitors
- Interactive touchscreens for information
- Modern mobile or stationary transaction kiosks
- Employee information displays
- Social media interactive signs
- Holographic customer services
- Retail and hospitality displays events, entertainment and menus
- Public transit schedules with real-time updates
- Private transport ordering and tracking
Take just one of those: “Employee information displays.” They have replaced the light boards in call centers. Now, employees see digital displays on their walls, usually with a larger central sign and it displays current waiting times, ideal waiting times, customers waiting and so forth. Similar can be seen in share dealing call centers where digital signs show sellers which products to “Suggest” and which are coming to the end of their sales cycle.
Emerging Trends Are Tough to Judge
Trends in the IoT sphere are not focused in one place. It is not a Silicon Valley situation. There are some amazing things happening in China, New Zealand, Ireland, South Korea and Japan. There are companies in Europe that are finding ways to connect multiple devices and people at once. Here are two innovations that may take off in the future or may not.
In Romania, a fairly poor country in GDP terms, have some very expensive clubs where you can use a digital sign to tell the bar staff what you want and where to bring drinks. It is modeled on how McDonalds allows customers to make their menu orders on digital signs and tablet devices. In the clubs, the waitress brings over your drinks and you pay for them right there (with your cards or cash if you wish). This system eliminated the need for people to summon a waitress over to take drink orders, and it doesn’t ask for payment in advance, which means there is no stress of wondering if your bought drinks have been delivered.
A company called Nuance is trialing a hands-free voice-recognition system that uses digital signs to offer up patient information. For example, it allows people can speak to the microphones in a bathroom to ask a nursing team to attend to a patient who has fallen. The system knows who is talking, be it the janitor, a different patient or a doctor (each speaker has a password phrase similar to HSBC’s telephone banking system). On the signs, you can see information about the patient, and the people attending will see files on what is currently wrong with the patient who fell.
There Are Four Opportunities
There are four main opportunities when it comes to IOT in the digital signage realm. Each can be easily exploited simply because digital signs are so versatile. People are even using them as an extension of their business’s online experience. Here are the four umbrella terms for the opportunities that currently exist.
1 – Info-tainment
Modern info-tainment is where you keep people happy while subtly selling to them. You see this sort of thing in waiting rooms, especially in places like vets offices where they also have services and items to sell. For example, in vet’s waiting rooms signs tell you the horrors of Canine parvovirus and then give their price list for vaccinations at the end.
2 – Outright Marketing
You can think of this as poster advertising. The same principles apply here as when you put promotional posters up around your business. Digital signs become places where you can show off your ads on videos, PowerPoint presentations, etc. You can run ads in your store windows, give stock alerts, and you can tell people about upcoming items, and so forth.
3 – Branding Exercises
This is any form of brand information dissemination or brand education. Do not be dismissive of this behavior. Tesla may brag that it never uses traditional advertising, but they don’t mind having digital signs showing their car’s technology whizzing around the city streets.
4 – Raw Interactivity
This is where people can really be creative. It can be anything from sensors that can tell when people walk past, to allowing people to interact with the social media content on digital signs by using their phones. Even interactive maps in malls have found ways of promoting one store over another. The interactivity doesn’t have to be that intense. You can get people to download your app or visit your store from a QR code you leave on your signs.
Get your digital technology, sensor technology and the rest of your IoT gear soon. This is not a fly by night tech trend like Siri or motion controlled gaming. Digital signs integration with IoT is here to stay. Get on board now and join the innovators. Remember that life isn’t always about who does it the best, sometimes it is about who does it first.