Digital signage is everywhere. If you left the home today, you probably found yourself within eyeshot of some form of digital signage. As it becomes easier and less expensive to implement, businesses of all sorts are quick to embrace this technology. Something that’s been lost in this rapid deployment, however, is the proper use of audio in digital signage installations. In many cases, video systems are installed where legacy audio systems remain, with little or no effort to marry the two.
Audio and video go hand-in-hand, and integrating the two sensory elements in the context of digital signage offers a great advantage — an opportunity not to be missed by businesses seeking better ways to connect with and educate their customers.
Here are a few examples of how audio is helping digital signage find its voice:
Create Focus in Retail
With so many distractions in a retail setting, video displays often compete with other stimuli and, too often, are lost in the shuffle. Carefully planned audio placement can grab the attention of meandering customers and draw them in to a particular area of the store where digital signage is located. If executed carefully, placement of the audio source in relation to the visual display can establish predictable traffic patterns, enabling retailers to increase foot traffic in specific regions within the store. This ability to influence where a customer shops helps retailers fine-tune their merchandizing with the goal of ultimately increasing sales.
Public address capabilities in public spaces have come a long way since the muffled, static-filled PA systems of the past. Audio not only enriches public venues with background music, it’s also a powerful tool to inform people during times of confusion, and even to lead them to safety in times of crisis. From shopping malls to subway stations to sports arenas, audio can be seamlessly integrated with video displays to provide an entertaining, educational experience, and also to play a critical role in crisis preparedness and disaster planning. And because audio systems are typically tied-in to emergency back-up power systems while video is not, these safety announcements could be the only communication link to the public in the event of a power outage.
Audio Enriching Fine Art
Audio/Visual installations are becoming increasingly common in museums and other public attractions. Take for example the Letterkundig Museum in the Netherlands. The museum recently underwent a massive refurbishment that included the implementation of more than 100 digital signage players. In addition to walking through a chronology of Dutch and Flemish literary history, visitors can approach one of seven kiosks to both watch and listen to poems and other excerpts from 100 of the most prominent Dutch writers, past and present. This level of interactivity creates a deep connection between the visitor and the writer, giving the visitor a greater appreciation for Dutch literary history.
These are just a few examples of how audio can enrich digital signage. Added to these are countless applications with unique audio-only requirements, such as tour busses using geo-location features to play relevant audio at the right coordinates — “You are now passing the statue of liberty to the right” — and the delivery of inaudible high-frequency audio that is detectible by a mobile app to enable “checking in” of customers in a retail environment. Of course the possibilities are limitless, and in my opinion we’ve just begun to see how pervasive this technology will eventually become, especially as the cost and complexity of these solutions continues to decline.
Filed under: In The News
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