Thursday, 28 April 2011

Screenmedia Expo preview: dZine, Harris, Signagelive

In the run-up to Screenmedia Expo, held in London 18-19 May, we're previewing highlights of the show floor and the conference rooms. Today, we take a look at three more exhibitors: dZine, Harris, and Signagelive.
dZine, the digital-signage unit of Barco, expects a busy Screenmedia Expo with interest in its systems coming from a variety of sectors.
Said UK sales director Adam Wilson: “Retail is growing rapidly with more and more large-scale projects throughout Europe. We believe this is due to the ability to monitor and record customer engagement to the displays. With the use of camera-recognition systems and interactive systems it is easier than ever before to prove whether customers are viewing or using the digital system. Thanks to this, more and more brands are willing to pay for a digital campaign.”

The company’s other main vertical markets – transport, higher education, corporate, and conferences/stadia – are also continuing to grow, according to Wilson, although customers are spending longer on proof-of-concept and trial phases before committing to full rollouts.
And there’s also ever-widening variety in the specifications of the systems that end users desire. Most of dZine’s customers now ask for interactivity of some kind, said Wilson, and like most in the sector he expects integration between digital signage and smartphones to be the major theme of 2011.
“We are seeing much more demand for large video walls and synchronised content,” Wilson added. “Standard installations with one 16:9 landscape screen seem to be almost a thing of the past – customers are wanting more, and to create more of a wow factor. But we are also seeing an uplift in sales for our smaller, embedded screens. Our seven-, 15- and 19-inch screens with built-in dZine engine are being used more and more, for targeted point of sale, way-finding and for room-booking systems.”


The highlight of Screenmedia Expo for IT and broadcasting technology titan Harris will be the British launch of two new software releases: the latest versions of InfoCaster, Harris’s digital-signage system, as well as its Punctuate business-management software. InfoCaster is now at version 4.2, while Punctuate has reached 4.0.
Unlike some vendors of digital screen media technology which take a one-size-fits-all approach, Harris is focusing on very specific technology benefits for particular user groups. For stadia and other event venues, for example, it identifies useful features as including IPTV streaming, handheld remote controls, and closed captioning.
Retailers, meanwhile, are pointed at the Harris system’s video-wall capability as well as integration with Micros-Retail point-of-sale technology, while for users in the transportation sector Harris emphasises the durability and ruggedness provided by a media player with solid-state drives, 12V power, and locked and sealed fasteners to counter shock and vibration.


Screenmedia Expo will be an early chance to see Signagelive’s latest release of its digital-signage system. Two of the big enhancements in this Web-based platform are about usability: broadened support for different browsers and operating systems, and a multilingual interface, automatically defaulting to the language chosen in your browser settings.
But there are functionality improvements too. The Layout Creator module has been upgraded with advanced photo-editing capabilities (and is now known as Layout Designer): a wealth of features includes layout templates, background library, multi-directional RSS, new options for text alignment, support for custom screen resolutions, and layered images.
Other additions to Signagelive include widgets allowing integration of QR codes, Twitter and Foursquare with digital out-of-home media, while interrupts – which allow the displayed content to be changed locally with a single touch or key press – are now said to be much easier to set up.
Also on the Signagelive stand at Screenmedia Expo will be the company’s hardware partners Philips and Advantech, exhibiting kit including Advantech media players and Philips screens such as the Dimenco 3D unit.

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