It’s been quite a start to the new year. We’ve talked extensively with customers, partners and fellow vendors at industry trade shows in the first quarter. In general there is a great deal of optimism and excitement about where our industry is headed. Even though the year is still young, we’re starting to see some interesting trends emerge — trends that will be responsible for much of the growth that we’ll see in 2013.
First and foremost, we believe that the demand for rich content and interactivity will drive explosive growth this year. We’re going to see a proliferation of rich, compelling content developed in HTML5 and delivered in HD. 4K HD is on the horizon as well – this new ultra high-res video format has twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of 1080p, with four times as many pixels overall. It can be delivered using a new codec called H.265 that provides a 50 percent bit rate reduction so that file size remains manageable. The crux of all this, however, is that rich media like this requires powerful devices capable of hosting, managing and serving it up, and software capable of supporting the latest development tools.
In addition, the proliferation of touchscreens is driving explosive growth in interactivity. This shift is happening as a direct result of the proliferation of smartphones and tablets. People have become comfortable with touch/swipe as a method of interaction with their personal technology, so it makes perfect sense that digital signage will begin to connect with people in the same manner.
In recent years the market has produced substantial advancements in hardware – devices have become smaller, less expensive and more powerful. These new media players are a great example of hardware that’s more than capable of handling today’s rich media, with the ability to scale as content continues to develop in the months and years ahead.
We’re reaching an inflection point where the richness of content is matched by the impressive capabilities of today’s hardware. While the shift to solid-state technology is becoming commonplace, installers and end-users must remember to choose carefully and be sure they are investing in the very best equipment. Solid-state players have set a new standard for reliability, rendering those dreaded blue or black screens a distant memory, and now they are exceeding customers’ performance expectations at every turn.
The underlying theme is the co-dependence of hardware and software — and this rings true now more than ever. We stand at the confluence of rich content and robust hardware, and what results is digital signage that’s nothing short of breathtaking.
This column is reprinted with permission from the Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA). For more information, go to http://www.digitalscreenmedia.org.