It took a couple of days, but I finally found something at the Digital Retailing Expo that was new and novel.
Boston-based LocaModa had a little booth off in the back 40 of the show, and some screens here and there demonstrating the way their software and technology platform marries digital signage and cell phones – using SMS text messaging and a very simple spin on interactive voice response systems (IVRs).
I spent some time yakking with co-founder Stephen Randall, a transplanted Brit with a passion for new technology.
How it all technically comes together is over my thinning head, but in the simplest terms, the application for digital signage is a mechanism that allows anyone with a cell phone to ring up a number promoted on a screen – such as in a shop window – and make a request to view something on that screen using sms short codes.
He walked me through a couple of examples, such as one for homes for sale. After dialing an 800 number, I was encouraged by the IVR system to use my cell phone key pad to press various numbers associated with homes promoted on the screen. I pressed in a number and almost instantly the back end of LocaModa’s system sent a text request to the media player to play that related file.
With text messaging usage and sophistication in North America far behind other parts of the globe, and a boomer population well-stocked with Luddites, Randall says he had to dumb it down as much as he could. The net effect is a phone that behaves something like a remote control for digital signage.
This has tons of interesting potential applications and I’ll be very interested to see what LocaModa and its clients come up with.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.