STRATACACHE CEO Chris Riegel tends to take a conservative, pragmatic view on this sector, but also tends to get out ahead of his competitors when he sees something emerging.
In what is a bit of a departure, a company with roots in caching hardware and content management software is now starting a specialty display division called Optika Display.
Optika will operate as a division of Dayton, Ohio-based and is squarely aimed at what Riegel likely sees as a rather yawning hole in the marketplace for displays that don’t fit the sizes and types as decided in Seoul, Tokyo and Shenzhen,
“As digital continues to redefine the model for out-of-home customer engagement,” explains Riegel, “there is a huge opportunity to capitalize on specialty displays capable of integrating with new digital experiences (higher brightness, ruggedness, reliability, etc.)”
Optika (now why isn’t this also in ALL CAPS???) will focus on resizing LED-driven LCD displays, specialty glass, specialty lighting, glass coatings, and specific interfaces (multi-touch, etc.). “Along with serving the needs of specialty industries including transportation, military, automotive, and gaming, Optika will also serve traditional display markets in QSR, Retail, Gaming, Financial, Service, and DOOH (digital out-of-home) advertising.”
Riegel has appointed Jason Meyer to oversee and manage the growth of the new division. “An expert in the field, Jason joins Optika with an impressive background in engineering and LCD enhancements in outdoor displays.”
Riegel has heaps of space in Dayton to warehouse displays and do logistics, though he may need a clean room for the truly fiddly display stuff.
Here’s the deal on this:
1 – The big guys like Samsung and LG don’t do custom displays, so if you have something slightly out of the norm in mind, don’t even bother asking them. They make 100 million plus panels each year in a few key sizes, just about all of them shaped like TVs or monitors or tablets.
2 – The Tier 2 guys in Korea, Taiwan and China don’t have much of a footprint here, so you are often dealing with manufacturers agents, time zones and fractured English. And they also don’t do specialty stuff.
3 – The specialty guys like Horizon do nice work, but are small and don’t really do whole solutions.
4 – Buying direct from China via something like Alibaba can quickly devolve into a clown show/nightmare. Yes you can find a 12-inch widescreen panel, open frame, but will what shows up look like it did online, and even work?
So, as in-store digital merchandising and other sectors really catch on, their needs are not going to be defined and aligned with whatever the volume panel sizes are coming across by the container. If a CPG brand wants a 32:9 aspect ratio panel, that’s just want they want.
Optika will, at least in theory, be able to handle that.
I can’t think of another software company that can bring custom display work up in a meeting, though in the past the old Digital View (turned EnQii, turned ComQi) could do that because of its background in display controllers and panels. Digital View still does, but is not associated with the current ComQi.
Optika also gives a home, focus and product manager for his PrimaSee transparent displays, which he was doing well ahead of most of the actual display guys.
STRATACACHE getting into something different is not entirely unique. The company owns EnVu, which does interactive floor projections for brand advertisers in US shopping malls.
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.