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COVID-19 Applications for Digital Signage in Crowd Control and More

There’s a direct relationship between real-time information and stress. Information helps de-stress people, set clear expectations, and provide alerts about new policies and procedures, among other tasks. The more informed people are regarding a situation, the more at ease they’re likely to feel – particularly in an era where many sectors of our society are more stress-inducing than ever before. That’s why, in the age of COVID-19, digital signage has a multitude of applications that can drive powerful efficiencies, deliver key peace of mind, and more. From crowd control to interactive screens, touchless solutions, wayfinding and information about wait times, and more, digital signage is poised to carve out a critical space in the way our businesses, schools and healthcare facilities operate. Let’s explore the COVID-19-era applications for digital signage – and those just around the corner – in more detail. The Immediate Benefits of Digital Signage in the Age of COVID-19 As the world continues to march back to normal – perhaps even a “better” and safer normal than pre-pandemic – digital signage has a variety of roles to play. Crowd Control When used in conjunction with IoT devices and sensors, digital signage can help track people entering and leaving a space and help ensure capacity limits aren’t breached. Further, when connected with door locks, swing gates and more, signage can automate the control of crowds even more, taking pressure off both customers and staff. Emergency Messaging & Situation Management Critical health updates and other real-time information can be disseminated by digital signage, such as digital billboards or screens, and directly tied to information sources that trigger on-screen updates and important alerts. Wait Time Updates and Virtual Queuing Wait times need to be managed across a variety of industries, from grocery to healthcare and beyond. The more informed customers or patients are, the more willing they are to wait – even a five-minute wait can seem like a lifetime to an uninformed customer. Setting expectations with digital signage avoids this frustration, and empowering further education with IoT devices and cameras, as well as leveraging virtual queues to let customers wait from anywhere, goes a long way. Room Signage and Desk Hoteling Using digital signage to let people know who is in a shared space before entering can promote appropriate distancing, and automating the flow of information with digital screens and calendars can be extremely beneficial, as well. It’s all about organizations’ ability to track and log key information, then leverage it to create safer environments. Access Control In the same way, digital signage can integrate with security and access control systems to monitor specific, high-traffic areas and control who has access via simple integrations and alerts. The Nearly Limitless Future of Digital Signage Applications Though many were born or thrust into the spotlight during the COVID-19 era, many applications of digital signage are set to revolutionize the way we do business and interact with one another forever. Outdoor Signage Consumers are now used to outdoor events, grab-and-go and pickup processes, and more, and outdoor signage can help facilitate continued growth in these services by getting the message out quickly and empowering easy wayfinding. Entertainment While customers or patients wait in line, digital signage can continue to be integrated with cutting-edge technology and interaction to provide entertainment, real-time news and weather updates, specials and inventory levels, and much more. Virtual “Receptionist” Digital signage can eliminate the need for someone to always be present at the entry to a space, enabling people to reach who they need to through a simple interface. Other sensor integrations and QR codes can make the experience even more contactless. Powerful Advertising While many organizations will have implemented digital signage to share health tips, procedures and processes, informational resources, and much more, information that can be updated automatically or as conditions change, those same screens can also be used to engage in interactive, tailored advertising. As organizations adjust to a new normal, digital signage provides a powerful tool to utilize not only to inform and keep people safe, but also for a multitude of other applications.

Say No To These Digital Signage Myths

Digital signage is not technology of the future, but is very much the technology of today. Businesses of all sizes put this electronic medium to use and enjoy a positive return on investment. Digital signs can increase sales, boost foot traffic, and offer a dynamic advertising medium with the flexibility and impact today's businesses need to differentiate themselves. From small cafes to boutiques to large showrooms, digital signage is a valuable marketing tool that delivers results. Digital signs beautifully display marketing messages, including specials, impromptu sales, and other information about a business that customers can immediately take in and use. Don't buy into the following 4 myths about digital signage. 1. You Should Wait for Technology to Mature More While there will undoubtedly be further advancements in digital signage technology, existing technology is already mature, with most digital signs using LED backlighting which cuts way down on power consumption. And yes, 4K displays are here, but HD is still phenomenally popular and is more than sufficient for most digital signage applications. 2. You Can Save By Using a Consumer-Grade Display In some cases this is true, but usually a commercial-grade display is worth the investment. Consumer-grade panels are rarely rated for longer than 10 hours of daily use, while digital signage is typically expected to perform longer than this. Furthermore, warranties on top commercial displays last up to six years, compared to the typical one-year consumer-grade warranty (which may be voided anyway if it's used in a commercial environment). Commercial-grade displays let users lock out video inputs so no one can turn them off or change them, plus many have schedulers and on-off timers for source flexibility and automation. 3. Digital Signs Cost Too Much On the contrary, the ROI for digital signage can be easy to justify. Screen sizes range from modest to very large, and a high-performance full HD display with media player and software in a turnkey solution can be had for a reasonable sum. No longer does using digital signage require expensive equipment, coordination among multiple vendors, and specialized software. Benefits become apparent very quickly as your business generates additional sales revenue due to relevant information being presented to customers in your store. You can even display customer endorsements that come in from Facebook and Twitter on your digital signs. And when a campaign ends, you're spared the hassle of discarding old physical materials and starting over. 4. Installation and Content Building Will Be Too Complicated Today's digital signage systems allow content to be uploaded in a variety of ways. Creating signage content today is no more complicated than creating an audio playlist or putting together a PowerPoint presentation. Many of today's digital signage applications include pre-made templates that make it easy to build content, without the necessity of hiring a designer. Updating your digital signs as needed is easy.  There is simply no reason to be intimidated by the idea of using digital signage today. With powerful systems available at a range of price points, even small businesses can make great use of this technology to drive higher revenues and generate relevant, up-to-the-minute advertising without expensive third-party software or the necessity of hiring a designer. Advances in technology have made displays more cost-effective, brilliant, and energy-efficient than ever, and the ROI for digital signage can be both quick and positive.

Podcast - Pardon the Technology Disruption

Doug Bannister, Founder and Chief Technology Officer for Omnivex Corporation, Mensa member, and all-around Renaissance man, knows how fast technology changes. His involvement in the technology industry dates back to 1991. Back then, only those in the know knew what the internet was. Things have grown leaps and bounds in the 30 years that followed. And, with every technological advancement that’s changed how the world works and operates, there is a major disruption that’s come along to push the technology in a new direction. “My role at Omnivex is to be the guy looking down the road,” Bannister said. “Where are we going, tracking innovation, tracking disruptions, looking at technologies as they arise – the question that drives me is, ‘What should we be doing today to ensure we are still delivering value to our customers many years from now?’” With so much change in the technology space over the past 30 years, does Bannister see things slowing down, or will the future contain more rapid advancements? Spoiler alert! It's more rapid advancements. “One of the things we have to understand is the concept of exponential growth,” Bannister said. “It’s counter to a lot of our natural thoughts, but exponential growth is a continual accelerating growth, and so much about what’s going on in the world is driven from that.” One great example of how rapid growth can occur when technology shifts are the conversation from horse and carriage to the automobile. Bannister cited two photos from an Easter parade in NYC taken 13 years apart. One photo taken in 1900 shows horses and carriages lining the street. A second photo taken in 1913 shows the same street now lined with cars and only one horse and carriage. Fast forward to today, and a little invention called the iPhone debuted in 2007. It completely changed how humans communicate and interact with one another. So, without the benefit of a crystal ball, how can people keep up with the changes and stay relevant when a job today may not exist 10 years down the road? Bannister said it is through education. People need to be curious and learn about many different technologies, not just one. When education is continual, there is an opportunity to seize on opportunities and take advantage of the next technology disruption.      

Podcast - Leveraging Digital Signage to Create Future Flexible Workspaces, Part 2 of 2

In this podcast Doug Freutel, Vice President of Innovation and Visionary at Radiant Technology Group, an Omnivex partner, continues to share his perspective and insights on how digital innovations, specifically digital signage, will play a role in these future workspaces. Fruetel picked things up where he left off in Part 1, discussing the evolving workspaces of the future – one where work hubs may become the norm. “How do we maintain capacity on how many people can come back?,” Freutel said while discussing the future workspace. “You have that 40-45% of workers that want that hybrid situation. We don’t need full-time desks for those people. But, when people come back, they want to be able to have those social engagements. So, if you split your group into two, and someone on team A, which is working Mondays and Wednesdays, wants to engage in person with somebody who’s working on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you’re eliminating that opportunity.” One of the things Freutel’s team works with companies on is implementing proper flex workforce strategies. One strategy is a hoteling practice that allows businesses to see when teammates are available. This type of approach allows a manager to reserve a space that can either pull a whole team together, or at least a significant portion of the group, and then deploy collaboration tools to draw in the rest of the team. “We see this evolution of instead of these cubicle farms and offices, we’re redefining our spaces into what are called ‘neighborhoods,’” Freutel said. “People are a part of a neighborhood and can book spaces and book desks and collaborate when they’re involved in that neighborhood.” Another consideration for businesses reopening and planning their future workspaces is vendors and guests. “A lot of our customers have shut down their offices to vendors,” Freutel said. “But we’ve got to get vendors back in. Obviously, a face-to-face meeting when you’re trying to entertain a guest or you have to have a vendor come in; how do we safely bring them back? We’re seeing a lot of implementation of new tools around getting people back into the office safely.”  

Typography Matters - Tips for Type in Digital SIgnage

Digital signage is a key to unlocking many doors. Better engagement, quick and simple information sharing, powerful wayfinding, and more are all at your fingertips - but only if you make the most of your innovative digital signage solutions with fonts that make best use of them. WHAT’S YOUR TYPE? SERIF & SANS-SERIF FONTS - it’s all in the name. Serif fonts have small projections (called ““serifs””) that finish a stroke of a letter. Popular in print, and generally considered easy to read, as the serifs guide your eye to the next letter. Sans-serif fonts do not have serifs at the end of a stroke. Popular in digital, as the clean lines of the letters are clear on a screen. Sans-serif fonts have become the go-to for digital communications, as it’s thought sans-serif fonts display better in pixels with their cleaner edges, making them easier to read on screen. Serifs typically didn’t render well in the early days of computing, but new technologies have changed that, and serif fonts are starting to be utilized more on screen. Still, sans-serif seems to be the more preferred font type for digital communications, and ADA guidelines do require all important text on signage to be in a sans-serif font, and readability most likely is the reason. FONT SIZE MATTERS - SCREENS & RESOLUTION & AUDIENCE - oh my! There’s a few things to think about when trying to determine a good font size to use for your digital signage. Unfortunately, there’s no magic font size that works best for every layout, as digital screens vary in size and resolution. So how do you decide what font size to set? Generally, it’s a safe bet that small text will most likely not be readable, as the audience for digital signs is usually a good distance away from the screen. Larger text is usually better and ensures your message gets out there. Most applications use points as the unit of measure for text. When designing for print, designers know that 72 points is equal to one inch on paper - which means a font set to 72 points will be one inch in height when printed. But digital layouts don’t use inches as a unit of measure, they use pixels. So how do you determine the size of the text in pixels? POINTS TO PIXELS - a simple calculation. If you want to figure out how high your text will be in pixels, there’s a simple formula you can use - multiply your font size by 0.722. This formula gives you the height of your chosen font size in pixels in a standard one-to-one pixel ratio. If you’re designing for a final resolution of 1920 by 1080, a one-to-one ratio means your layout is also 1920 by 1080. But knowing how many pixels high your font will be can help you with your layout. RESOLUTION - how many pixels are you dealing with? Resolution is the number of pixels in an image. Standard HD screens have a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, and this is a common layout size for digital signs. Set your font size relative to your overall layout size, and remember -- larger text is more readable. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE - make sure your message is seen. Knowing your audience is important to ensuring your sign is readable and your message is heard. How far away are they? How big is the screen they are looking at? All are important factors to consider when trying to determine an appropriate font size. TO CAPITALIZE OR NOT TO CAPITALIZE - USING CASING EFFECTIVELY - does it make a difference? Studies have shown that all uppercase lettering reduced reading times by as much as 20%. Other studies have shown all uppercase lettering is easier to read. So what do you do? If you want to use all uppercase text, go for it! Just be conservative, and use it for text shorter than one line, such as headlines or labels and dates. It will stand out and provide the impact you’re looking for. FONTS, FONTS EVERYWHERE - BUT NOT IN YOUR LAYOUTS - keep the number of fonts to 2, 3 max. Try to limit the number of fonts you use to two, three max. Using more will result in unnecessary visual clutter and a less readable sign. Try using a sans-serif for headings and a serif for body, or use different weights of the same typeface. LESS IS MORE - KEEP IT SIMPLE - reduce clutter in your copy. It doesn’t take a paragraph to say what you could communicate in one sentence.   View infographic as PDF.

Podcast - Leveraging Digital Signage to Create Future Flexible Workspaces, Part 1 of 2

There are many avenues to pursue related to the future workspaces and how the pandemic has forever changed the landscape of the way people work. In this podcast Omnivex invited one of their partners, Doug Freutel, Vice President of Innovation and Visionary, Radiant Technology Group, to share his perspective and insights on how digital innovations, specifically digital signage, will play a role in these future workspaces. Freutel kicked off the first of this two-part discussion with some of the new business workplace challenges of the pandemic. While some businesses sent employees home to work remotely, many essential companies needed staff on-site at the workplace. Social distancing and other safety and sanitation measures were required to keep employees healthy on-site. The next question was how to communicate all of these changes and procedures. “Digital signage is a key portion of how to collaborate and communicate with employees effectively,” Freutel said. “One of the terms I like using is ‘future flexible.’ If anything was learned from this COVID experience, the idea of future-proofing gets thrown out the window. One of the cool things about digital signage is that it can be future flexible. It can be adaptable.” During the pandemic, digital communication has already played a significant role in enterprise communications. “It’s been great with crisis management,” Freutel said. “The CDC posted a bunch of jpegs and images that people could immediately throw on their digital signage. “One of the great things is companies that have had to deal with their change management governance have been able to use signage for that.”      

How Digital Signage Brings Manufacturing Efficiency

Manufacturers have a lot to manage in the modern manufacturing landscape, with automation, a growing skilled labor gap, accelerating timelines and heightened consumer demands all placing strains on the efficiency of an operation and its processes. Particularly in a lean manufacturing environment where Visual Factory Management is a key part of managing daily improvement and eliminating waste, digital signs, video walls, interactive kiosks and mobile phone-driven solutions can improve productivity and drive efficiencies. Fortunately, implementing or elevating existing digital signage solutions can help companies in the manufacturing sector realize a wide range of benefits, from real-time data reporting, reduced costs, streamlined digital communications, and more. The Value of Real-Time Data Reporting via Digital Signage Data is king, but no amount of data collected is worth the time spent gathering it if it’s not being seen or analyzed in real time to deliver actionable insights. Digital signage solutions can give manufacturers access to real-time production alerts and metrics, inventory monitoring and key statistics, real-time KPI dashboard tracking, and more. As the saying goes, “We are what we measure,” and digital signage and communications empower unmatched insight into the data driving your organization. Reducing Costs by Upping Efficiency Alongside that insight, digital signage can power tremendous savings. Overall, a more connected facility and team reduces time wasted identifying issues, prioritizing tasks, conducting manual and tedious counts, and more. Specifically, though, digital signage and communications bring real advantages. They empower real-time inventory monitoring and robust wayfinding, helping your organization engage in dynamic inventory location that shaves time and drives efficiency. The reduced inventory, improved quality and safer work environment powered by robust digital signage helps organizations lower production costs and, most critically, see an increase in the bottom line driven by a more efficient operation. Real-Time Communication Elevates Safety and More Finally, digital signage, particularly when implemented throughout a facility from the cafeteria to the production floor, empowers more informed, satisfied and safer employees. Digital signage can communicate real-time updates, deliver company training, make key announcements, distribute news and weather information, broadcast emergency health and safety alerts via integration with external systems and alarms, and more. This connectivity and the resulting informed employee base will add to that overall efficiency and productivity that lowers costs and saves key minutes each and every day. To learn more about how Omnivex can bring these benefits to your organization, visit https://www.omnivex.com/solutions/industries/manufacturing.  

Podcast - 2021 Digital Design Trends

In January 2021 Rich Archer, Creative Lead, at Omnivex sat down with Bradley Cooper, Editor, at Digital Signage Today to discuss 2021 Digital Design Trends. Below is an overview of their discussion and a link to listen to the podcast. When thinking about digital signage content, it can easy to get caught in the more complex aspects, such as how and when to trigger the content or what kind of advertising strategy to use. It is important, however, not to forget the key ingredient to good content: good design. However, in order to have a good design, you need to be aware of what current design trends are and what customers resonate with the most, as well as what colors are in style. For example, Pantone regularly publishes its colors for the year, which can influence designs across many industries. Pantone picks its colors based on what it sees as the themes of the year. For example, this year it picked PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray, which represents a firm foundation. In this episode of the Digital Signage Today podcast, Rich Archer, creative lead at Omnivex, shared some crucial detail on current and future design trends. He addressed topics such as: Pantone's Colors of the Year - what is it and why do we have them? What trends from 2020 are we still going to see in 2021? How will 2021 be different than 2020? Listen to the podcast on the Digital Signage Today website!

Digital Signage 101: Learning to Think Like a Designer

It wasn’t in the job description when you accepted your position, nor did you study the topic in college. But suddenly you find yourself in charge of your business’s digital signage. Are you prepared? You associate digital signage with graphic design. You associate graphic design with art. But is that right? And if it is, oh man, you’re in trouble—because an artist is the last thing you’d call yourself, at least in public or on your LinkedIn page. But hold on. You’ll be all right. With a slight shift in your thinking, you can likely handle many of your digital signage needs on your own. Crystal Clear Messaging The first thing to keep in mind is that while art is subjective, design is definitely objective. A painting can mean different things to different people and still be considered a great painting. In fact, the possibility for multiple, even contradictory interpretations may be one of the painting’s charms! In digital design, by contrast, such ambiguity only leads to confusion. Your message should be clear and easy to understand and crafted for a specific audience. Cool, vivid, stylish, or even flashy—these characteristics aren’t good enough by themselves. Their only worth is in their ability to clearly convey your message to the people who need it. So, before starting your next digital signage project, clearly identify who it is you’re trying to communicate with and what it is you want that person (or people) to do. Let the answers to these questions guide you in all of your design decisions.   Easier said than done, of course. The designers who succeed create good memories and strong attention spans. It’s those moments when designers forget or lose track of either purpose or audience that things go off-topic. So tape it to the bathroom mirror: everything you do in design should be to accommodate the goal you are trying to achieve. That isn’t to say that those in digital communications can’t be creative. Designers are problem-solvers—the most creative of the creative-types out there. They’re also extremely versatile, able to quickly transfer their skills to a variety of mediums: digital, print, UI/UX, Motion Graphics. As the famous designer Massimo Vignelli once said: “If you can design one thing, you can design everything.” Omnivex Can Help Omnivex offers complete digital communications solutions that not only meet but exceed our customers’ expectations. Services include consulting, project management, creative design, technical design, hardware selection, installation, training, and technical account management. Our unparalleled product expertise and experience ensure our customers receive the best solution for the best possible outcome.

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