Catching up on a few things …

June 3, 2009 by Dave Haynes

A few interesting things happening out there, most of which I’ve not had time to think about it. Electrograph going down has been chronicled by others. All I can add is that being a hardware distributor means working on really thin margins … and anybody trying to run a DS business based on hardware markups is ignoring that little pricing research tool called Google.

Rumors of PRN ditching people is hardly surprising given the twists and turns of that company, and while I’m sure things have changed, what stuck in my head when meeting PRN people in their better days was one word: smug.

Not everyone is struggling, and a few are expanding and hiring good people. An Austin, Texas company called Starmount raised some eyebrows in late winter when it hired Dick Trask, who was a well-known senior marketing guy with one of the giants, Scala. Now my old friend Tom McGowan has formally signed on with Starmount as Vice President of Product Management, a role Vegas-based McGowan has been doing for a while on a less formal basis.

Tom has been around this business forever, way longer than me, and seems to have found an interesting new gig. The company has a deep background in databases and working with Oracle, and has entered this game building a modular, open source operating platform framework that won’t necessarily need Windows or Linux.

It’s sounding very interesting, based on my chats.

Press release on Tom here:

We’re finally starting to see companies get into this space with something other than weather, repurposed news or, my favorite, extreme sports footage.

Consider New Jersey-based multimedia shop CD Meyer, which has announced something called Brain Flexers – a kind of Nintendo DS brain teaser thing, except for big screens.

The story goes, president Chris Meyer already had a background and template library for DS called fuel signage (, and started thinking about to use his company’s expertise in game development.  

These “clips” of digital signage content are visual games that require no interaction with the screen, making them easily used in any signage network or hardware configuration.

The games, which run from 40 seconds to over a minute, incorporate beautiful photographs and interesting game concepts.  The game content ranges in subject matter from points of interest, to pop culture concepts and much more.  The animated effects are designed to draw attention and keep people looking (and thinking).

Brain Flexers are currently available in multiple video file types and in both horizontal and vertical formats.  The content and design of the visual games can also be customized for a client’s specifications and subject matter.  Detailed information on Brain Flexers can be found online at

Something tells me the CD Meyer company is Chris and his cat, but regardless, I’m happy to see anything that actually puts something new and engaging on screens.

The demo I watched was really long, so rule out a bunch of environments where networks are lucky to trap eyeballs for more than a few seconds, but the many waiting area networks out there might quite like this stuff.

Finally, Infocomm is coming on like a rocket and I am still figuring out if I am going. One company that is going, but isn’t, is Seattle-based .advancedMethod, which has announced it will have a booth, but no people in it.

The spin here is that the company doesn’t want to create “a massive carbon footprint” by sending a bunch of people and booth bunny stuff to Orlando, they’re staying home but getting someone to set up a booth. (My guess is not everyone is really staying home.)

As Robert Grawet, General Manager of .advancedMethod, says, “Our digital signage system, express, is perfectly capable of doing the talking for us. Not only does digital signage greatly reduce on the printing and shipping costs of traditional signage material; express provides the perfect platform for us to have our voice heard loud and clear!” Through express, the Seattle team is able to create and schedule content ahead of time that explains the company’s various offerings. In addition, .advancedMethod will even offer guests a very special interactive kiosk/video conferencing experience that will put them directly in touch with the team back in Seattle.

To further conserve resources, .advancedMethod will be building their booth in Orlando from local recyclable resources. The booth will be designed to look like a giant express box that guests can interact with in order to learn more about the express digital signage system. Following InfoComm, the box will be disassembled and all materials will be donated to Habitat for Humanity, going towards building homes for those in need.

The cynic in me suspects what they are using isn’t worth sending back, ie sheets of plywood. Nonetheless, this is a West Coast company and people there have been thinking green a long time.

This at least looks like a very clever way to spin cost-cutting and a trimmed-back booth presence. I’m not sure the low-budget, packing box look will get more than curious stares as people buzz by, but I could easily be wrong. What I do know is this approach probably got them a lot of attention today, and that’s a marketing win.

Leave a comment