Next Generation of Digital Signage Applications Is Possible Today

Editor’s note – May 5, 2010 –
Language in the following story has been updated for clarity.

London — May 4, 2010—Digital signage is ubiquitous. A onetime novelty in shopping malls, advanced digital screens are now seen in nearly every shop window, airport, hotel and cruise ship vying for the attention of passersby. Digital signage has become a crucial aspect of communication for the retail and hospitality market — it even serves as a form of entertainment while traveling on London’s Underground and is quickly evolving to reflect the future of modern billboards.

Traditionally, a lack of standardization in the industry has forced digital signage application developers to dedicate limited resource to what should be basic operational issues. This, in turn, has kept their focus away from creating interactive, immersive experiences that communicate with consumers. It also poses costly challenges to network operators attempting to implement, manage and maintain their networks.

Recognizing these challenges and realizing the full potential of the digital signage market, technology market leaders Microsoft and Intel have recently stepped up to invest in the future of digital signage.

This week on stage at the Screenmedia Expo Europe 2010 in London, Microsoft and Intel announced availability of a platform based on Windows Embedded Standard 7 and Intel® Core™ i5/i7 processors optimized for the needs of the digital signage (DS) market. This makes it easier and more cost-effective for DS device-makers to create new, interactive capabilities that will drive the industry forward. Developers can download the Digital Signage Evaluation Kit (DSEK) for the new platform here.

This validated platform is a result of the strategic relationship the companies announced in January 2010 at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Annual Convention & Expo. Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Division at Microsoft, also recently announced the availability of the platform in this blog post.

The DS platform uses Microsoft’s latest Windows 7 technology innovations through Windows Embedded Standard 7. These include Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Touch and Windows Flip 3D navigation for multigesture touch interfaces and context-aware applications; Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager for streamlined connectivity; and smart power-management APIs for enhanced energy efficiency. The goal is to fuel the next generation of DS applications with rich, connected and immersive user experiences.

For developers, this optimized platform specifically for DS is designed to provide a robust, stable way to simplify new application development, enabling device-makers to focus on creating richer, smarter and more interactive signage solutions that can be managed remotely and deployed anywhere. For brands and retailers, its flexibility and ability to create intuitive interfaces allows them an opportunity to track and build sales and customer loyalty. For consumers, this equates to an enhanced user experience with streamlined, connected access to information.

An example of what is possible on this platform with Windows Embedded Standard 7 and the Intel® Core™ i7 processor is the Intel Intelligent Digital Signage Proof-of-Concept (POC), being shown at the Screen Media Expo. The POC features a multitouch, multiuser interface with a 7-foot-6-inch holographic glass display and anonymous video analytics that recognize consumer genders.

Windows Embedded and Intel customers already have plans to begin shipping products and solutions for specialized digital signage devices built on the Microsoft and Intel platform. Examples include AOpen, C-Nairo, DT Research Inc., Harris, H-P, Micro Industries, NCR Netkey, NEC and YCD Multimedia.

Twitter users can follow @MSFTWEB for updates during the event.