Panasonic and ComQi have worked out a partnership to market technology that connects smartphones with digital signage displays, using encoded light signals embedded in the screens.
Panasonic’s Light ID technology works a bit like QR codes or bar codes, in that consumers who have an app loaded in their phones can easily pull down information that interests them, like product information, promotions or instructions. The difference is that instead of having to scan a code, users just point their phone camera at the display.
Light IDs are based around an imperceptible flashing white LED light built into the rear lighting source that illuminates the LCD display. It transmits the encoded signal, which is tied to content scheduled by ComQi’s content management platform. The targeted content links hidden in the signal are picked up and activated by launching an app.
The idea here is that it is less fiddly than trying to scan a QR code with your phone, using a scanner app, which can indeed be a pain in the butt. Light ID has a high-speed transmission rate, information will decode and jump to user phones almost immediately.
ComQi and Panasonic are touting Light ID technology as having broad potential applications across retail, as well as for digital out of home advertising and information-dense environments like airports, rail stations and other mass transport hubs. You can see the attraction of getting something like schedules and concourse maps, as well as directions, off a wayfinding screen and on to a phone.
Light ID is also seen as a way of getting around the interference problems that can develop when using Bluetooth and sonic notification. This tech has low interference properties, which means marketers and communicators can provide different messages through multiple Light ID transmitters installed next to each other.
It’s interesting tech, and saw a preview at the Panasonic booth a couple of months ago at InfoComm. It worked.
The challenge is that this needs an app, just like QR codes need a scanner and NFC needs phones that are equipped with NFC and turned on. Neither of those technologies are dead, but I’ve read little to suggest it has caught fire in terms of usage rates among consumers.
Light ID is seemingly easy, but people still need to know the screen is enabled with it, and then also know what to do and have an app that will respond to the light beam.
The tech also works in things like analog lightboxes – the rear-illuminated printed signs you see in a lot of retail and out of home advertising jobs.
Here’s a demo vid from CES …
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.