Writing this on the plane and in lounges – heading back to Nova Scotia. Like a lot of people, based on what I was hearing and then seeing this morning at the airport, I punched out after three days.
Thursday was busy-ish, but nothing like Wednesday. I finally, on day three, spent some meaningful time in Hall 8, which is where the software guys are, interspersed with smaller display and gear guys. Hall 8 has a lot of Tier 2 and 3 Shenzhen LED companies, as well as a pile of specialty guys. You want LED dance floors or fountains, or mesh LED, Hall 8.
I had been looking all week at companies that are marketing transparent LED on film. LG started showing this about three years ago, bringing in color last year. This year it looked great, though I don’t sense it has changed from 2018.
There was a little Korean company that has a background in P-Cap touch layers, and they have applied what they know to a fully transparent film that sticks on glass, creating active windows, railings and room dividers. The LG one is 24mm pitch while the stuff from Inotouch is 16mm, and full RGB color with better transparency. That means a tighter image that can be appreciated from closer distances. The film is maybe 18 inch thick, and the units come as tiles, maybe 20 by 20 in dimension. The company is still a couple off months out from launch.
I liked the Inotouch stuff more than a Chinese company, Tiege, that also has LEDs on clear plastic. I was a bit disappointed in what I saw, in that the LED on plastic array has a sort of ribbon cable look to it, with much thicker bands of metal that, I assume, conduct the energy that drives the LEDs. From the rear, it looks better than metal mesh LEDs do (they look like hell from the rear), but still not all that good. A marketer looking to attract people might like it and not care how it looks on the non-business side of the window. A designer or architect would, and would not be pleased.
I got updates from a few software companies about where they are at – notably Four Winds Interactive, which is in the final stretch of a big shift to cloud-based services. CEO David Levin showed me how much of the controls and capabilities are now cloud, and accessible by smartphone. The transition should be done by spring.
I also saw the latest enhancements of the platforms of companies like Scala, Signagelive, Navori, Spinetix and ONELAN. Broadsign had a substantial booth, but was using it for meetings more than demos, from what I could see.
Jason Cremins of Signagelive pointed me at a London-based startup called SodaClick, that does HTML5 content templates for advertising and messaging. There are some similarities to what Insteo was and is doing, though now via Almo. I liked that the guys behind it are graphic designers, not coders – so the templates actually look good.
Intuiface had a very busy booth showing its easy-use interactive and analytics platform. I also saw a lot of people around SignageOS and, as always, BrightSign.
I poked around the other major display manufacturers booths, having already spent time with Samsung and LG. They ALL have beautiful product. Things are brighter, skinnier, faster – all the usual stuff. Most, they now offer fine pitch LED along with their skinny bezel LCD video wall products. In some cases, they may be the original manufacturer. In other cases, it is going to product manufactured by Chinese companies like Liantronics.
Speaking of LED – Daktronics is most known for its outdoor and sport stadium LEDs, but it has fine-pitch for indoors, as well. I saw a 0.9mm product dubbed Optica that has 6,000 nits, which is the sort of brightness used in outdoor.
Saw more, talked lots and lots. But I have a connection to make, so that’s all I’ve got. Podcasts coming in next weeks with the VP R&D of Leyard/Planar and the CEO of Trison, which is Europe’s biggest integrator.
I will have the Digital Signage Awards winners up early next week, at latest. Picked up someone’s cold while in Amsterdam, so this weekend will likely be unproductive.
Next trip – Shoptalk at the start of March in Vegas, then DSE a few weeks later. Further along, SID Display Week in San Jose and Infocomm in, sigh, Orlando.
If you are still in Amsterdam, safe travels home!
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 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.