NYC Walkabout : The Tiffany Virtual Windows Are Lovely, But Reflection Is An Issue

October 12, 2023 by Dave Haynes

The front end of this week was spent in New York, moderating a DSF panel and also doing a few things like catching some of the DPAA conference and getting a peek inside a very ambitious new tech-focused attraction that hopes to open next month (more on that once it’s OK to mention).

I also walked and walked and walked the city – doing the High Line (an old elevated rail line that’s now a tree-lined escape from the street-level mayhem) and going past or in numerous need-to-see locations. My app says 25,000 steps for Tuesday and my knees were letting me know Wednesday morning.

I was up near Central Park at one point, so I had a look inside the Tiffany flagship store to see the floor-level use of digital displays to create a sense that the space is lined on the sides by big picture windows.

My impression: I like the idea and while it looks nice, there’s a pretty significant tissue with reflection. You could argue that might be the case with real windows picking up overhead lighting, but there are anti-reflective products that would perhaps reduce or even minimize the impact. I’m guessing only digital signage and AV nerds would notice that, though.

Nearby, the Fifth Avenue Microsoft store that used to be a must-see example of ambitious retail deployments is showing its age – particularly as the tech giant has backed off attempts to compete with Apple stores.

There were LED modules out on the street-facing display over the entry, and looking inside, there was not much happening on the LCD displays that line the walls, and they were begging to be calibrated so colors and other properties matched.

Down by Madison Square Park, I noticed a building lobby video wall at a property called Zero Irving. It has been there for a few years now, but as is often the case with these things, the same short content loop has been playing in there forever. Given the wall is maybe 3 mm SMD LED and unprotected, it was in pretty good shape, save for one noticeable scratch that damaged several pixels.

I used to take photos like crazy when walking around NYC, when it was great to see retailers and building owners using digital signage technology. Now it’s so commonplace that it’s slightly off when I don’t see a high-profile store or building using the tech.

I also headed back to my hotel by first going through Times Square. If you’ve ever been there at night, and you don’t enjoy crowds and crazy people, you’ll understand why I didn’t take a single photo and got the hell out of there after about five minutes.

My take – a LOT of the big LED spectaculars have been refreshed with newer, tighter display tech, and they look fantastic. Some of the boards that have been there for a while now, like the multi-tiered American Eagle one – are showing their age now.

One thing that was super clear – those 3D visual illusions look like crap unless viewers are standing at very specific angles. And that’s hard to do in Times Square. And that whole square is such a visual riot I wonder how many people even notice the illusion or make the effort to find the viewing sweet spot.

Good to visit the very big, busy city again, but also good to get out of there after 48 hours or so. It’s exhausting.

Next road trips, unless something comes up, are DSE in Vegas … then ISE in Barcelona.

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