Back Home: Some Final Digital Signage Thoughts On ISE 2023
February 6, 2023 by Dave Haynes
Back at World HQ after two heavy weeks on road – and ready for some final thoughts and observations about Integrated Systems Europe.
The ritual for people like me, who do a lot of trade shows, is asking others who also hit many of these shows about what they saw that was new and interesting. We often shrug and say that we kinda saw the same stuff: just bigger, smaller, tighter, brighter, easier or whatever. Innovation is more often little advances, not giant leaps.
But I now think writing that, as I often have, is a disservice to readers, because I am admittedly more than a little jaded after 17 years of doing this. The things that may make me shrug stop many others in their tracks – because they’ve never been to such a show, don’t get to enough of them, or are more excitable and entertained than grumpy old me.
I noticed a guy on Friday walking into ISE’s digital signage hall, going bug-eyed and quietly saying “Wow!” to himself. Meanwhile, I’m saying “Oh God” as I walk in, because vendors want to yank me into their stands to talk and do demos that will chew up precious time.
Every year, I see crowds of people mesmerized by the madly spinning LED light stick thingies and those transparent LCD shower stalls. Both are marketed as holograms (for the 1,000th time, they’re not) and while I think they have some purpose, it’s narrow. But I need to respect that if solutions providers and end-users see a use, and the audiences think the things are amazing, my opinion doesn’t much matter.
That said, it’s still important to remember that “Wow Factor” often tends to have a short shelf life – especially when it’s about the device and not what the creative is doing.
I was talking one night to an executive with a Nordics solutions provider, and she said part of her mission for the show was to bring customers down and show them the possibilities. The stuff that I’ve seen, a lot of her customers have never seen. So to walk up to the LG booth and see a vast Magnit microLED video wall, or a long run of transparent OLED displays on glass windows, would be mind-blowing to a lot of people. Maybe to most.
Same goes for Sony. Same for PPDS. Same for Samsung – even though they maintained what I would politely call a curious policy of not letting customers and partners walk in to their vast, all-black stand and and check out the latest pots and pans from Korea. I refused to take a scheduled, curated tour earlier in the week, as it would tie up my time hearing about interactive whiteboards and desktop monitors that I didn’t need to know about. But on Friday, I went back and said they could either let me see the new display stuff behind the black walls, or I would skip it all.
So I saw the new gen of The Wall microLED displays. They’re super fine pitch, and look as lovely as you might expect. What was interesting to me was the explanation that these premium LED displays come in 55-inch cabinets – the same dimension as what’s probably the most used dimension for narrow bezel LCD video walls. So a 2 by 2 is a 110-inch microLED video wall that just attaches to an aluminum backplate.
Photos weren’t allowed, but my iPhone camera must have just went off???
There may be others that do the LCD dimension cabinet thing, but my tiny brain seems to think much of what I have seen with LED cabinet shape has been shifting from just squares or 4:3 shapes to still relatively small 16:9 shapes.
My UK friend Peter Critchley, who runs the UK wing of the big Spanish integration firm Trison, wrote a nice wrap-up Linkedin brief on ISE that went into the value of such a show.
Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) in Barcelona is doubtless the best place to see, hear, touch, and smell the very latest in digital technology and retail experiences, but it’s so much more than this – The people in this industry are fantastic.
You can walk the halls for the whole week and you’ll meet passionate, engaging, and dedicated people who are investing their whole selves into making the experiences people have with technology better and better, every day. It’s truly inspiring.
Like the comparatively tiny DSE in November in Las Vegas, the big value of this show was more than just the opportunity to see and fondle the latest and greatest, brightest and tiniest tech. People in this ecosystem want and need to see each other. The mixers I do are not popular because they offer free drinks and food. That event, and networking events held all over a host city during a big show like ISE, are about catching up with industry friends and partners for more than a few fleeting moments in a booth, or on the convention centre’s concourse.
There’s time to relax. Talk honestly. Joke. And not be in Always Be Closing sales mode.
Here’s a video that invidis produced from interviews at the Sixteen:Nine mixer that gets into all that.
One of the things I am quite proud of about last week’s mixer was how we actually used digital signage hardware, software and content during the event. There were screens at the gateway, confirming the party and welcoming people. And we used sponsor Videri’s super-skinny rectangle and square displays all through the event area to welcome people, and recognize sponsors.
Screenfeed CEO Jeremy Gavin, also a sponsor, sent me an email seven or eight weeks ago asking if there was some way to show photos of the people from the sponsoring company on the screens, so that attendees could put faces to companies and names.
Screenfeed was a sponsor, so we used its own Connect content authoring platform to generate creative. Gavin’s team, working with Videri, did a loop that showed the sponsor company logo, then stated that company’s primary marketing message, and then showed the faces, names and titles of the key people from the sponsoring company who were at the party. It beat the hell out of surreptitiously gazing down at name badges, or asking me to help find Person X in the crowd.
The sponsor faces didn’t QUITE align with all the various screen formats used (as you can see below), but for a one-off, one-night event, I think this was effective and valuable to sponsors.
We even did a full venue screen takeover at one point to tell the people who were also attending the awards dinner that followed at the same facility to head upstairs.
I think the sponsoring faces thing is something we’ll be doing whenever possible at future mixers.
On the matter of mixers, it is very likely now that we’ll do one at InfoComm in June in Orlando. There is much to sort out there, but at the tail end of last week’s, I had a CEO already saying his company was in for the next mixer, wherever it was. He saw the community gathering thing, and “got” it.
Posts will be limited for the next couple of days, while I reboot my brain and old body. I recorded a pile of quick interviews I need to throw into Otter to AI transcribe this week, and relay that in a few posts. I also did a couple of terrific podcast interviews, which will run starting next week. I had designs on getting those organized while still in Barcelona, but ran out of time.
I hope your travels home were safe and uneventful. Our flight was only maybe 40% capacity, so I had a whole exit row to myself. Bliss.
It was also blissful on Friday afternoon, having bolted the show early, to be sitting at the Barcelona waterfront marina area, outside in February, drinking glasses of Priorat (big Spanish red varietal). Never saw a cloud all week.