21-23 Aug 2024
ICC, Sydney

Digital Signage in a Touch-Free World. What’s Next?

With rapid adoption towards touch-free surfaces, what does the future of digital signage look like for the retail sector? Here’s some advice for facility managers.

Over the past 10 years the growth of digital signage has provided endless opportunities for the AV industry as commercial environments transitioned from traditional analogue signage to digital solutions.

The retail industry has been the most notable of the change, with interactive digital signage reshaping the shopper experience. The renewed focus on providing high quality digital signage solutions in the retail environment was driven by growing customer expectations, rising infrastructure developments and demand for 4K and 8K display.

As the world suddenly shifts away from touch screens amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a question around what the future holds for interactive digital signage in the retail environment. How do you re-train customers and what do you do with your current infrastructure?

The Touch-Free Future

According to Jeff Hastings, CEO of BrightSign – a market leader in digital signage, the solution is “not to abandon interactivity altogether.”

Digital signage has proved its importance during COVID-19 providing crucial and timely updates to the general public during a time when time was of the essence. As such, the digital signage market is expected to reach $29.63USD by 2024, a CAGR of 7.3% from 2019 to 2024 – a spike for the market.

According to many, interactive displays can still thrive in a touch-free environment. Voice integration, QR technology and sensor functions, are some solutions that can make displays both functional and safe, whilst still empowering an interactive experience without sacrificing peace of mind.

Redesigning Digital Signage

As retail begins to reopen, finding an interactive digital solution is key for facility managers to implement so that they can continue providing a seamless customer experience.

Hastings shared that after COVID-19 hit, BrightSign fast-tracked the development of new interfaces that enables interactivity via sensors that don’t require physical touch. He noted that this can be done with a “simple retrofit of existing displays”, welcomed news for those who no longer have the budget to purchase new hardware.

Similarly, engineers at Audio Authority have recently introduced a range of ‘Air Select Touchless Sensors’. This solution has been designed to replace their 19mm push-buttons with touchless sensors in their existing interactive displays. A range of simple hand gestures and patterns now perform the same functions as push-buttons for volume control, product selection and scrolling.

Other market leaders such as Bluefin and Nexmosphere have also redesigned their interface to now support touch-free sensors, which can be upgraded using their existing hardware. Bluefin’s solution prides itself on being an affordable and easy to set up solution due to no additional controller required to connect. Whilst Nexmosphere have added sensors with synchronised LED lighting, further enhancing the interactive experience.

Next Steps for Retail

While touchable digital signage may be a product of the past, the demand remains. With upgrades and redevelopments of digital signage software now available, the retail sector can benefit from staying ahead of the market while continuing to provide a solution that is so engrained in the shopper experience.

Although this will continue to be an investment for facility managers, customers will welcome the change as a new way forward without the need for physical interaction during COVID-19 and beyond.

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