Philips has started marketing its Android-equipped smart displays as the hub for access controls at retail and other types of venues that need to “gate” foot traffic because of COVID-19.
Philips Professional Display Solutions, the company says in new PR, has worked with partners globally to create a solution that helps retailers follow government guidelines and control store traffic.
Details are a little light, but the essence of it is commercial displays that have embedded system on chip (SoC) media players, running Android, paired with peripheral cameras or other sensors, and CMS or queue management software (or both) to automatically control the numbers of people inside a defined area at any given time.
Numerous solutions are already on the market that do this as all-in-one kiosks and sandwich board-style displays, but this is the first product I have seen marketed as a solution by a big global display company.
Philips says partners and customers across North America are currently testing these solutions.
However, I heard from a solutions provider who looked into this, and concluded:
It’s getting added to my list of manufacturer COVID-19 vaporware. No pricing, no stock, no API, and no marketing info for resellers.
Says the PR:
This new product uses the company’s strategic partnerships with global software and peripherals providers and its software powered by Android to deliver a new digital signage solution that is both cost effective and easy to install.
Designed to fit settings with one or several points of entry, the solutions will provide store employees and customers with visibility into the number of people entering and exiting a building, as well as introducing effective and efficient line management systems, informing and engaging customers at the same time.
The solution is currently being tested among Philips Professional Display Solutions’ customers across Europe. Kersten Retail Techniek, one of the Benelux region’s largest retail installers that supports some of the world’s leading brands, such as H&M and Footlocker, is in the process of introducing the solution across stores. Conversations with a number of other leading organizations are also taking place in the UK and Europe.
“Philips Professional Display Solutions has responded immediately to these new retail challenges bringing a complete solution to market that simply didn’t exist before,” said Ronald Kuypers, Kersten Retail CEO. “Even during this lockdown, people still need to visit stores, so it’s crucial we ensure they feel safe and comfortable in doing so.”
“North America and the rest of the world are in the midst of unprecedented circumstances. COVID-19 has caused us to think twice about engaging in ‘normal’ activities like going into work or going to the grocery store so we can protect the population’s health and reduce the burden on our frontline workers,” said Joseph King, Senior Director of Philips Professional Display Solutions, North America. “As we navigate this ‘new normal’ of social distancing and decreased personnel and customers in stores, the collaboration between digital signage and technology has never been more important.”
The new displays, which can be used across industries such as retail, corporate, hospitality, education and healthcare, provide benefits for both the current climate and the future. They can be programmed to provide customers and staff with clear information around store capacity, alerting customers to whether it’s safe to enter the store by installing cameras at building entrances. These cameras will feed information on expected wait times, as well as engaging, promotional messaging onto the displays. Additional features include:
- Ability to broadcast updates using audio and a traffic light system (red, yellow and green), ensuring complete inclusivity
- Integration with automatic doors, enabling them to open and close based on capacity – potentially freeing up staff from managing lines
- Access to the flexible and secure Android SoC, which enables partners and developers to add and integrate their own API/software features, bringing more choice and benefits to customers quickly and efficiently
- Utilization of Philips Professional Display Solutions’ exclusive control and management software, CMND, which allows for single and multiple displays to easily create and share information and provide customers with complete control locally and remotely
“Helping our customers is and has always been our top priority, but this is even more important due to the current environment. It is because of that mission and through our partnerships with some of the world’s top organizations that we have been able to bring a solution to market within weeks that was not originally in our pipeline,” King said. “Further, these displays can be utilized across a variety of industries and essential businesses and partners have the ability to easily integrate their solutions thanks to our use of the Android operating system.”
The portable units already noted in recent weeks here definitely have an attraction and purpose, but I can see room, as well, for larger and more permanent displays that may be more easily seen and heeded, and may have more obvious alternative uses when/if the need for access controls lessens (we all hope) at some point.
It is increasingly clear that this particular functionality is a big ask right now, and I have seen both solutions providers and some CMS companies doing the work to make solutions available, from full modules to widgets.
The key reason is pretty simple – people can no longer just walk in to many places of business, and retailers, in particular, are scheduling staff or hiring security firms to be bored, expensive bouncers. These technology solutions – even if the folks doing the work are getting minimum wages – pretty quickly save money, and let staff do something more productive.
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.