Although this year’s DSE was full of great technology, the items discussed below are indeed a few of my favorite things. Before going into detail, let me just say that it has been a crazy DSE — I haven’t seen the official numbers, but attendance feels way up. I know this because part of my job involves shooting rAVe’s great booth tour videos — and booths were so busy with attendees it was hard to grab some video time! A problem for us, but ultimately great for the show and exhibitors.
This steam punk themed outdoor enclosure from Boyd is great! While not super practical for most public places, it would be perfect in themed restaurants, clubs or theme parks with a pseudo-victorian technology twist. For those not in-the-know of that particular geeky subculture, it’s a style that involves lots of stained wood, brass and exposed clockwork and pipes — mixing new technology with something you might find in a Jules Verne novel. I’m pretty sure I could find a place for this in my house, although then it wouldn’t really be DOOH anymore.
The new HyperSound Directed Audio Solutions are amazing. I’ve heard highly directional speakers before — but they’ve really tuned these systems to a new level. They have both floor and hanging wall speaker systems. When I walked up to the demo area, I thought the audio wasn’t running yet. I stepped a few inches forward and was hit with the full audio track. Like I said, it’s not the first time I’ve seen directional speakers, but it is really one of the best.
As much as I love my iPad, I really only enjoy reading e-books on my Kindle with E-Ink (sure, I could read books in paper — but who still does that?) I love a good new display technology, and I’m really pumped to see E-Ink adapting its panels to the digital signage market. It’s a perfect fit really. These displays excel in direct, full sunlight because it’s a reflective light technology made of millions of tiny physical spheres that rotate from white on one side to black on the other. That leads me to the second reason that makes this a great display for digital signage — it only uses a tiny charge once every time the image changes. It can maintain an image indefinitely with no extra power until you need to update the display. I’m guessing it wouldn’t change an organization’s power bill more more than a dollar a month. The downside is it does not do a great job with full grey scale images or animation. So, it is best suited to pragmatic uses, like text signs and price labels.
Over at a distributer booth,Stream TV’s Ultra-D demo was amazing. It is one of the best glasses-free displays I’ve seen. Philips makes a mean Autostereoscopy display, but the addition of 4K and high-brightness seems to have really pushed the medium to a new level. I would encourage anybody to see a demo of this display in action.
One of my favorite smaller vendors, Woosh!, was there — that’s not my exclamation point, but it’s built into the trademark. It’s an antibacterial spray and some kind of mild non-smudging coating that persists for a couple days. For touch kiosks (and phones, frankly) it’s a perfect match. Take a touch device that has more E. coli than a public toilet seat and Woosh! not only disinfects but also resists fingerprints exceptionally well. Plus, if you ask, the owner will spray this stuff directly into his mouth — I’m not even kidding.
Shifting gears out of that western themed booth a bit — I love a product that allows an organization to re-purpose equipment in new useful ways. Panasonic has done just that with these short-throw lenses adapters that will, according to the Panasonic representatives, work with ANY Panasonic single-chip DLP projector with swappable lenses. I could easily see a school pulling one of these down from a room to use a digital signage in a tricky space.
Here’s another creative way to add touch and interaction to any display or kiosk. This company uses an iPad and Mac mini to allow control and interaction with a large non-touch display. This could really save some money, particularly if you already had a large display and wanted to re-purpose it into a kiosk with information or way-finding.
If you have a tricky project that requires custom metal machining or say, something like cooling and protecting an under-water projector — Display Devices are your people. They are veritable wizards of metal. Heck, they were unhappy with the quality and style tradeshow booth trusses so they made their own from scratch! They are a friendly and talented bunch.
R.I.P Angry Birds. OK, so this isn’t exactly a favorite product, but more of an observation. There was a time a couple years ago at trade shows when you couldn’t walk twenty feet without running into a touchscreen demo using Angry Birds. And why not? It was a fun game that really highlights a touch screen. This year — I walked by every single booth, and I only saw ONE demo running Angry Birds. Maybe the industry needs to transition to new avian touch game like Flappy Bird (or its inevitable clones — RIP Flappy Bird). The only danger would be users ripping your beautiful screen of the wall and hurling it into the floor in frustration.
Stratacache had a particularly fun kiosk demo for a Pork BBQ restaurant. It was super simple — you can drag and drop cartoon pig face features onto your own head and take a photo which can be shared (thus generating a lead). It was silly, but you should never discount people having fun — people crave novelty. I see this stuff all the time, and I still wanted to stop by the booth and make my own pig face photo.
Also novel are these convex and concave curved displays from Bi-Search International. I don’t know off-hand where one would need these, but they could really solve a space problem somewhere — or just catch people’s attention. They also have a variety of very narrow aspect ratio LCDs that could be a boon for AV techorators.
Elevate had a whole series of really classy and well-made outdoor enclosures. They offer full packages including the software, displays and the enclosure. What really caught my eye was just the attention to quality and design in their enclosures. And the free popcorn, which was delicious. But mostly the enclosures.
Also eye-catching in the world of kiosks were these tablet agnostic, brightly colored tablet stands from Armodilo. This company has a well-made feel, and the wide-variety of colors could work in many environments. They do have black and white if these colors are making your eyes water a bit. The other nice thing is that they flip to face users on both sides, so it would be great for retail POS applications. Also in the booth were some stunning standing kiosk tablet stands with glossy printed images covering the curve of the stand. In one case, a demo used an LCD to animate sparkling light behind the static image, which was pretty slick.
Delphi — usually known for their tank-like cooled outdoor menu and ordering systems — brought out this fun sandwich board product that lets cafes and other retail users have a fun way to advertise with a screen, while still keeping the expected chalk-board drawings and typography you might find at a Whole Foods. The other nice this is how portable the unit is. You could drag this thing onto a sidewalk and move it at closing time — don’t worry about wind — this thing looks to be solid steel like its big-brothers in the company.
Overall — I was really impressed with the show. I have a few more things I liked in particular, but I’ll save that for another post before this gets too long. Thanks again to all the great exhibitors who were super helpful while I was shooting videos and finding news.