Dakota Audio is at the kiosk/digital signage show running over the next couple of days in New York, and showing off a new speaker specifically designed with digital signage in mind.
The speaker is really a bunch of little speakers in an array, and through some engineering that is quite easily over my head, points the audio output rather than radiates it. It has somewthing to do with sound waves all arriving at the excat same time, and using delays to do that. You can go here to read more and see diagrams.
Anyway, the North Dakota-based company says the “new MA-5 is slightly larger than the MA-4 at two and a half inches high, two inches deep and will be stocked from twenty two to thirty eight inches wide (custom sizes also available by special order) and features a richer- fuller range sound, ambient noise level compensation and proximity detection. The amplifier included with the MA-5, like the MA-4, is remote to the speaker and includes additional configuration options to assist installers control the directionality and sound quality of the MA-5.”
Dakota says its decision to formally enter the digital signage and kiosk markets was brought about by the requests from our customers. “Their vocalizing a need for a high quality directional audio solution that according to them didn’t exist in the digital signage or kiosk markets was a big factor in our decision,” says CEO Lynn Mader. “So far the response has been overwhelming and manufacturing is struggling to keep up with demand.“
The guys who sell Panphonics and American Technology’s HyperSonic Sound speakers would likely take issue with that notion, though all three do things very differently.
In Dakota’s case, they have focused more on the museum industry but have been getting requests to develop a product for this space, I certainly welcome anyone who helps do audio well. Where audio is being used, it tends to be:
- stupid, as in irritatingly loud and prone to be disabled by near-suicidal staff who have to hear it all day
- really stupid, as in hoping people will put headphone on and tune to a dedicated FM frequency
- ineffective, as in soft and dispersed
I have not had a demo of the Dakota stuff, but have for the other two and it really does work. Panphonics gives a fairly tight and long, if needed, audio cone. HSS is very tight, and almost freakily drills into your head. I would not use that technology in mental health care facilities.
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.