Here’s an interesting little digital signage/NFC technical demo that UK-based CMS provider Screenly put together for its presence with Ubuntu and Evrything at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
It shows how a store that already has display infrastructure in place, and already uses NFC on its clothing tags, could make a merchandising screen particularly useful.
Hold your NFC-enabled phone to a tag and it throws a url to the phone. But more to the point, it does a lookup and shows real-time product availability on the item. That happens because IoT provider Evrything is integrated with the inventory back office.
I asked Screenly’s Viktor Petersson how many retailers actually use NFC, and was told Evrything has about 2 billion items under management. “The key here is that many brands already use NFC/RFID in their supply chain, so we are simply re-using what they already have,” says Petersson. “It would of course not be cost effective to implement NFC tagging for this alone.”
The set-up, which runs on Ubuntu Linux and low-cost Raspberry Pis, also supports non-NFC enabled phones “The way we are able to do this is that we have a custom website that people can simply take a photo of the label. We then run image processing on that label to figure out what product it is, and give the customer the same experience,” says Petersson. “The NFC example makes for a cooler demo, but we need to support both.”
You have likely seen something like this before, with holding a phone to an NFC tag at a screen triggering a url to a phone and changing what’s on the big screen. I have seen Capital Networks and Real Digital Media do that. The main difference here is the back-office/IoT integration.
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.