Digital Signage Expo 2007
May 18, 2007 by Dave Haynes
Well, the good news is that this year’s edition of the DSE show was well attended, not only in terms of bodies but also in the type of people wandering around the show floor. There were a lot of people there on missions to find stuff.
The bad news is that if you were hoping I’d crank out some reports on what people were saying on panels and in presentations, I will wholly disappoint you.
I barely got time to grab food and water both days, and I definitely didn’t steal away to catch any presentations. I was so whipped by the end of day 1 my Spidey Senses shut down and I didn’t even realize the free bar at the mixer was open just metres from where I stood.
There were roughly 100 exhibitors, and several software players I’d never heard of. I was told there were about 1,200 attendees. There were some companies who’ve been around for a bit but had not been at these shows with a booth – like FirmChannel, Cnario, eK3, DDC, and WireSpring. Fellow blogger Bill Gerba, who I trade e-mails with but had never met, writes like a guy who has been around this industry forever, but actually appears to be about 22 years old. It was nice to finally meet in person.
What I noticed, buzzing around when I could, was a lot of good content on screens. There were fewer companies pumping the dubious merits of multi-zoned screens in their demos. Most of the big display guys were there, like Samsung, Panasonic, Philips, NEC, Mitsubishi.
I finally found a company that “gets” the peril associated with putting a big-assed screen out in the public. Hy-Tek, based in Chicago, had good-sized LCD TekPanels that were metal, not plastic, and had laminate glass built into the enclosure, so the somewhat fragile LCD panel glass has a fighting chance of surviving in public places. The units also have built-in PCs, connectivity, etc. The downside, at least in the short-term, is the PCs are not slot-loaded — so if some PC component craters for whatever reason, the whole unit has to at least come down and possibly go all the way back to the shop.
I got a run-through of MiniCom‘s VGA over cat 5 and 6 gear, which is capable of running a crisp signal out to a 1,000 feet and likely beyond. To prove the point they had big loops of Cat 5 cable and were running images and video through it. They also have a gadget that sends VGA, audio and RS-232 over one piece of cable.
I ran into a little Philly-area company with a booth along the back 40 of the show who have repackaged digital picture frames with nice, sturdy and location-appropriate enclosures. Fairfield Displays is a fixture and lighting company that has quite cleverly come up with a fixturing system that runs the low voltage power wire in the minimalist support structure that holds the screens up.
A lot of people were buzzing about the biometric data capture stuff that companies like Video Mining and newcomer Trumedia were showing. I also heard a lot of people talking about new ways that people are going at content and applications. The guys down the road from us at BTV+ were showing an early version of something they call Ask Clive, which is a digital touch-screen:kiosk: loyalty:CSR kind of thing that has a web cam and takes people beyond simple drill down kiosk stuff to a live webcam to a store guru who queries people on what they need to know and quickly finds answers. Hard to explain in a few words, but kind of cool. They are testing in Home Depot.
Most of the industry people I know said they were pretty happy about the volume of people and the quality of the people coming by. A couple of things I noticed that suggest the industry is getting all growed up. A number of people I spoke with were at a point of growth and success with their networks that they needed to ditch their home-made or initial choice systems and move to a platform that could scale up. And I split a cab back to my hotel with a guy who was also at the show, but was there doing recruitment work. So the industry is now big enough to have guys focused on headhunting talent.
The other sign of growth and maturity is that the show is moving to Vegas, at the giant Las Vegas Convention Center. The show is also shifting to the end of February, which will be good news for people in more wintry climes.
I have asked a couple of people who DID have time to look and listen to zip me some summaries, and I will post them as they come in. If you were there, and have observations, please drop me an email – dhaynes (at) digitalviewmedia.com