Hitachi getting into 3-D wayfinding

October 1, 2008 by Dave Haynes

From Japan comes word that manufacturing giant Hitachi, which most know for making TVs but also does a big business in things like heavy equipment and nuke plants, sees a big opportunity in 3-D digital signage.

Hitachi Ltd. has teamed up with Hitachi Information Systems Ltd. and digital video company CAD Center Corp. to start a business selling 3-D digital signage.

They plan to market digital signs to places like train stations, airports and large commercial buildings, using technologies for the delivery of 3-D graphics to display maps, routes and building information in more engaging ways.

The news release suggests Hitachi already has 13 per cent of the Japanese market for digital signs and can grow it in a year or so to 20 points by adding 3-D.

Hitachi and Hitachi Information Systems will develop and market the hardware and the networks for content delivery to the digital signs. CAD Center will develop the 3-D content.

These 3-D digital signs will have touch-panel controls so that users will be able to switch between overhead views and feet-on-floor line-of-sight views, and to move what is displayed on-screen to read vicinity map information and follow routes to planned destinations.  

Wayfinding is one of those areas that really is still in its digital infancy, but extremely ripe for development. Almost all wayfinding is print-based and mono-lingual, or bilingual at best. The melting pot of most big cities means being able to offer information in multiple languages is a big plus, and digital allows that.

How 3-D makes wayfinding better, I’m not sure. The technology is definitely improving — as witnessed by some stuff I saw recently from a New Jersey company called Tridelity — but it still has some of that, “Yeah, so …” feel to it. The Tridelity screen did better 3-D than I have seen at earlier trade shows, but it wasn’t all that meaningful and the 40 inch or so display cost $10,000.

Then there’s the extra cost of producing content, and on and on. 


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