DSE 2018 – Day One Impressions

March 29, 2018 by Dave Haynes

The first day on the Digital Signage Expo trade show floor is in the can. The hall looked good and there at least seemed to be healthy-sized crowds. I definitely wasn’t having to fight my way through hordes, but the aisles all had decent traffic.

The show is upstairs in a different south hall, with the crazy, boozy bar and nightclub show taking up the hall below.

A few things I like about the space: The food court has been upgraded so the options don’t look anywhere as grim (the ones in the actual hall are another story). There’s a waiting area with some seating inside the hall, with a coffee stand with decent output right there – so you don’t to walk out to get a revival cup. I also like being at the south hall, as it has less taxi, rideshare and overall crowding of the larger north area.

Many of the larger vendors seemed to have stepped up their game this year with bigger, newer or at least upgraded booths. Scala is very different – much more open than the somewhat cramped set-up I have seen at recent shows. Not sure I like the set-up with Scala and related partner booths attached to the back.

Lotsa buzz about Scala buying X2O and estimates of anywhere from $1 to $4 million to get the company off Barco’s books.

I did not have much time to look in detail in many booths, but in chatting with industry vets the general feeling was there wasn’t anything that was jaw-droppingly new or that I had to see. I am, admittedly, a little jaded from being at this show for 15 years and having already spent four days poking around ISE just eight weeks ago.

The tech is great – but as noted in the past, it is more a case of faster, thinner, lighter, easier, brighter, less expensive or whatever … as opposed to different or revolutionary.

I caught up with CEO David Levin of Four Winds, whose company I thought has been pretty quiet lately. The last year or more has been spent re-packaging the product to get away from a generalized offer to one that has a focus on some core verticals, like workplace and campus. It involves the disparate apps from the content store, organized by verticals but also tweaked and tuned to the verticals.

I didn’t see a whole pile of innovation in the innovation hub way in the back 40 of the hall, though I did see an interesting little spin on an old gadget. If you have been around this sector for a few year, you may remember some companies marketing little 2-inch LCD lapel screens aimed at the retail market.

I saw the Beam stand, and thought about that everything old is new again line.

Turns out, this is different. The screens are AMOLEDs – round and no doubt overruns from smart watch production lines. But the real deal is instead of just being dumb displays loaded manually with new content, there is a fairly rich mobile app and social media toolset, with the displays updated and managed via Bluetooth.

Kinda sorta barely digital signage, but also kind of interesting if you think of things like in-store communications or other one to one messaging.

The annual awards were last night. I don’t have the list, as yet, but will get it. The big winners were the brilliant LED blades install in Chicago, and content for the Houston Super Bowl, projected on water vapor. I was a judge, and 100% agree on the LED project, but not on the football thing – which was novel in terms of the display canvas but not all that amazing in terms of the actual creative used.

Oh well … that’s why there were nine judges, and not just my opinions.

I did not make it to the Peerless party, though I tried after a nice group dinner with the Skinny IT people and their many signage clients and partners. By the time we wobbled over, there was a line-up and they were 200 people over plan. Huge success.


So I hung out with people in a nearby bar and discovered I quite like Basil Hayden bourbon (though not as much this morning).

Doing this on the fly, as I need to sort myself off, record a podcast intro, and get my butt back to the LVCC for Day 2. If you are in Vegas, see you there. It’s gorgeous outside, so this is going to be hard spending all day inside.

  1. Todd Hoffman says:

    You’re everywhere. You’re everywhere.

    Dave, I commend you for how much great output you generate even when you’re on the road.

    Like you did with ISE, You quickly turned around an an easily digestible snapshot of DSE Day 1, catching what I missed. Perfect prep for maxing Day 2.

  2. Tomer Mann says:

    Did you stop by our booth at 22 Miles? From what I understood from the overwhelming positive feedback, our AR Wayfinding plug-in was “up there” with best new features at the show. It would be great to have shown you. Side note, I love Basil Hayden!

  3. Dave, as always, excellent insights… the 16:9 Mixer was another great event… and I enjoyed our visit and conversations Post-Peerless Party… OH!… and the libations!

Leave a comment