The interesting wrinkle is that BrightVoice solution is hosted locally on the BrightSign player, and doesn’t need an internet connection to function.
The idea is that consumers in retail and other kinds of venues can do hands-free interactive look-ups and navigation using their voice. The experience would be similar to what people do if they have voice-assisted devices like Google Home or Amazon Alexa.
“Smart devices such as speakers, watches and phones have propelled voice interactivity into the mainstream, and therefore voice-activated digital signage is a natural extension of that workflow,” says BrightSign CEO Jeff Hastings, in announcing the new capability. “What’s unique about the BrightVoice solution is that it enables manufacturers to demonstrate their own smart devices at retail and other pop-up locations without requiring an internet connection. This will be welcome news for any brand or retailer that’s ever grappled with the challenge of demonstrating cloud-enabled devices to customers via intermittent (or nonexistent) network connections.”
Dallas-based Reflect is the first CMS partner to integrate BrightVoice with its software platform. The company has a BrightVoice-enabled solution in place with a major wireless carrier’s retail stores. Reflect says it is up “in a number of key retail locations in the United States, with plans to roll-out to more than 1,000 stores in the months ahead.”
“Voice control introduces an entirely new dimension to digital signage and is a key differentiator that distinguishes our platform as one of the most powerful and versatile CMS solutions available,” says Bart Massey, Chief Technology Officer at Reflect. “Now that we’ve integrated BrightVoice into ReflectView, incorporating voice control into new and existing networks of BrightSign players is straight-forward, making for an affordable solution that can be implemented quickly and customized to the needs of individual experiences.”
The voice set-up works on BrightSign XD1034 or XT1144 media players. Users have to buy the BrightVoice Command Model Service and a USB-connected microphone for each endpoint. It appears networks already up with these players can add this, presumably through remote firmware updates.
Network administrators, working with BrightSign, then create a custom set of voice commands that trigger specific content responses when used in conjunction with the included standard wake word.
Customers desiring further customization have the option of purchasing additional levels of BrightVoice Command Model Service, which enable them to trigger unique content, control other devices, and create customized wake words to deliver an interactive experience fully tailored to the customer’s needs.
I know voice is considered a next big thing in some digital signage circles. I am in a “show me” state of mind about it. Because of ambient noise, heavy accents, reluctance to be embarrassed, and on and on, I wonder about applicable this will be.
To my mind, voice MUST be a better way of doing something, not just a novel way. For example, at an airport a wayfinding application could help match your flight number to directions to the gate. You could yell at the screen over the surrounding din, or just scan your boarding pass bar code, which is what happens at Boston Logan.
But there may be lots of cases where voice is highly appropriate and genuinely useful. Not sure if BrightSign wrote the AI voice code, used a third-party, or open-sourced it via something like Google Assistant.
Slightly odd, Men In Black-ish demo video below:
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.