Interactive Digital Signage Software Explained
Back when digital signage software first hit the market, available displays were based on cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors. They were bulky, heavy, and not inviting or visually appealing whatsoever. They were also unable to detect touch without applying a special and usually quite expensive touch film to the monitor surface. These were the early days of interactive applications. Back then, you would have encountered these monitors in interactive kiosks where they were used for in-store bridal registries or shopping mall directories. You would also encounter these kiosks in government offices and at bank ATMs.
From these early innovative applications, interactive digital signage was born. However, the underlying technology still had to advance a great deal in order to make the experience more meaningful for the users. For starters, there weren’t many good content-creation tools around and internet bandwidth was very low. Many kiosks still used dial-up modems to communicate with back-end systems, so they mostly performed very simple tasks like accessing simple information in a database or displaying simple graphics on a touch screen.
Back then, who would have ever conceived that thin, interactive, wall-mounted flat-panel displays and high-speed wireless internet would soon become the norm? It shows how far we have come in the past 20 years, and just how fast technology advances in general.
Technology is the big disruptor
Fast forward to 2021 where affordable, reliable, high-quality hardware is now readily available to the masses. Smaller, lighter, faster, and cheaper. Digital signage today, we now regularly touch screens or even surfaces like a window or tables, to interact with digital signage. We can also use voice and movement. This opens a world of new possibilities for interactive and smart digital signage, and we’re just scratching the surface.
Modern smartphones have added a new wrinkle. Now, you can interact with digital signage in ways we never imagined. For example, you can use an app on your phone to change what’s playing on-screen, or you can post social media messages in real time. Given the multitude of cost-effective interactive hardware options at our disposal today, we are now living in a time where the only thing stopping you from deploying interactive digital signage is your desire to do so.
Engage with your audience
In digital signage today, top companies around the world spend countless hours and days around boardroom tables trying to find new and innovative ways to get their customers to engage with their brands. Marketing and social media experts will tell you; engagement is everything. So, the question we want to help you answer is, how can one use digital signage software to accomplish this key goal of engaging with customers and visitors in an exciting and meaningful way? The answer of course is, well, there are many different ways! Here are a few examples to consider:
Self-service digital kiosks
Self-service kiosks are typically free-standing touchscreen displays that are mounted on some form of stand or base. Each touchscreen is running a digital signage software application that brings the interactive content onto the screen and allows the user to interact with it. Self-service or interactive kiosks are typically used in the following scenarios that any professional-grade digital signage software platform will allow for:
- Interactive product catalogs
- Interactive directions and wayfinders
- Room booking and reservations
- Enrollment in company promotions or mailing lists
- Browsing the company website
Each one of these interactive digital signage scenarios will provide your company with a way to interact and engage with your audience and provide value to them at the same time. Consider deploying one of them in your company head office or retail locations, for example, you might be surprised at how quickly you will get results.
Context-aware or smart digital signage
Too often we think about interactive digital signage as only a one-way street. A person walks up to an interactive digital display, touches the screen to interact with it, and eventually walks away. Let’s forget about that for a moment and think about scenarios where the digital displays can actually interact with YOU, sometimes without you even knowing it. For this, we introduce the idea of context awareness or smart digital signage. This form of interactive digital signage is based on the digital signage software platform using real-time data sources and environmental variables to automatically and instantly optimize or change the content being shown on screen.
For example, your business decides to install a camera in their retail store in order to anonymously detect when a person is near a particular display. Modern camera-based marketing analytics software like Aquaji will also tell you in real-time what the age range and gender of that person is. This data is then instantly ingested by the digital signage platform, which immediately “triggers” content on the display that is most relevant to the profile of the customer that is near that particular display. This type of scenario is becoming increasingly desired by companies around the world. Here are some other examples of this form of interactive digital signage:
- Display or hide certain promotions based on current weather conditions.
- Trigger relevant content based on the demographics of nearby customers.
- If too many customers are waiting in line, trigger content on the screen to direct them to another waiting or checkout area.
Lift and learn Digital Signage
Lift and learn digital signage is a simple way to improve your customers shopping experience while providing instant value in an interactive way. The idea is simple, customers engage with products on display by picking them up themselves. As soon as the product is moved from its resting place, the content showing on a nearby display will automatically change to show information about the product that has just been picked up. This provides the customer with a self-serve, interactive, and informative decision-making tool that is also fun to experience. Having a professional digital signage platform that allows for this type of interactive application is paramount. Here is a short video of someone testing out a simple lift and learn scenario that they easily created themselves using digital signage software:
A generation of consumers raised with modern technologies have very high expectations, and this will surely push interactive digital forward in the years to come. Today’s wayfinding displays let audiences rotate a map in any direction and zoom in using common gestures. It’s like using any modern tablet or smartphone, but it won’t stop there. Interactive digital signage can deliver useful information where needed and engage audiences through gesture-based interactivity. While some of the technologies that empower interactive digital signage have evolved from the security industry (think facial recognition), others came from gaming (gesture recognition with Microsoft Kinect sensors), and the communication sectors (smartphone apps and social media).
The future of interactive digital signage looks very bright. The next level will bring integration with enhanced reality through some type of smart glass technology or involve more smartphone integration. Voice recognition artificial intelligence and smart digital signage will also play a growing role in interactive digital signage. There may be applications where viewers can have a more meaningful interaction through voice, and intelligent responses generated on-the-fly by a chatbot or other smart assistant software.
These solutions could help automate visitor registrations, answer simple questions in a store environment, or simply assist people with certain disabilities. It’s important to note, most touch and motion-based interactions can be replaced with verbal commands, assuming the intelligent assistant communicating with the audience can understand and respond in a meaningful way.
In conclusion, we’ve come a long way since those early CRT monitors with touch-film overlays. With technology evolving at an ever-increasing pace, there are obviously many applications we haven’t even imagined yet. It is your job to make sure that you have a digital signage platform that can handle today’s interactive digital signage scenarios, and those that will become important to have in the future.