Jenn Gvozdek's blog

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.

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.”  

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!

Smart Communication Technologies

Smart Communication Technologies: Building a Higher Quality of Life According to the United Nations, it is estimated that by 2050, roughly 66% of the world’s population will live in cities. Today national and local governments are already feeling the strain of urban growth with limited resources, and aging or outdated communications infrastructures. How will they handle this urban growth in the future? To adapt, cities have become Smart. They are leveraging smart technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) to optimize limited resources and provide a higher quality of life through urban informatics designed to reduce traffic, save energy, and improve public safety. Many smart technologies are already being heavily implemented in cities such as Barcelona and Amsterdam. As well, the use of digital communications connected with IoT technologies provides cities an opportunity to communicate important messages and emergency notifications to any screen; including mobile phones, digital signs, interactive kiosks, and video walls What role does IoT play in Smart Cities? The Internet of Things is expected to connect more than 75 billion devices by 2025. Smart Cities will utilize this communications infrastructure to connect sensors and devices to optimize limited resources, meet the demands of growth and tackle city inefficiencies. Additionally, by replacing static signs with a network of digital screens and interactive kiosks, governments can further streamline operations and reduce operating costs now and in the future. Using devices such as digital signs, mobile phones, interactive wayfinding stations, and self-service kiosks, helps keep visitors informed in real-time of relevant information. Communication technology tools connected through the IoT, allow for various pieces of data to be analyzed in a central hub. Every device in a Smart City will be fluidly interconnected with the surrounding environment in order to communicate and receive key information. This allows for smart responses and faster adaptation to change. Data from a variety of sources such as calendars, weather and news feeds, external transportation schedules, and emergency notifications, can also be integrated into the digital communications to ensure the right information is provided at the right time. Smart Cities in action As smart devices and sensors learn and track behavior, they can predict and optimize trends and patterns to control energy and other resources. Sensors and devices will also allow diverse control strategies and optimization throughout the city in areas like transportation, waste services, and water/utilities. Barcelona has designed a new bus network based on the data analysis of the most common traffic flows. They are using digital communication technologies to display real-time information, alleviating perceived wait times and enhancing travel experience. Additionally, they have optimized the travel routes of emergency vehicles by calculating the fastest routes and setting all the lights to green as the vehicle approaches through a mix of GPS and traffic management software. This has drastically reduced response times for emergency services all through the use of integrated communication channels. A range of channels can constantly transfer information to indicate various actions—from displaying travel updates to engaging passengers with news, weather, and emergency broadcasts.  Smart Cities are pioneering a new approach to governing and running a city, based on real-time data. Digital communications enable cities to use the data they have collected to streamline operations and improve the quality of life for the residents. The Omnivex platforms enable organizations to easily collect, process, and deliver targeted information across any screen, allowing organizations to enhance their two most valuable assets: people and data.  

How Digital Signage Is Empowering the Future of Healthcare

It comes as no surprise that, during a global health pandemic, the healthcare industry has had no choice but to make rapid advancements and adjustments to how it provides healthcare services. As we all work together to overcome COVID-19, new healthcare experience trends have stepped in to help solve some of our biggest pandemic-related safety problems. Digital signage used for healthcare applications is providing attainable safety solutions for healthcare providers and their patients. Finding Touchless Solutions Digital communications provide opportunities to cut down on in-person interactions while ensuring that people have the vital information they need when pursuing healthcare. The demand for touchless interactive screens greatly increased during COVID-19. This left touchscreen solutions providers with a complex problem to solve. The solution? Some providers turned off the touchscreen functionality and introduced QR codes that users can interact with on their smartphones. With their phones, they can perform multi-touch gestures in order to interact with the touchscreen without having to actually touch the formerly interactive display screen. Digital Signage and the Future of Healthcare Digital signage is vital in the healthcare industry for ensuring the whole process runs smoothly and safely during both difficult and confusing times and more typical times. Applications include: Wayfinding - Digital signage can help visitors navigate buildings quickly and without assistance. Wayfinding screens with QR codes enable visitors and patients to easily download information and directions to their mobile phone. through wayfinding features. Additionally, it can be connected with emergency notification and alarm systems to improve facility safety. Informational screens - Digital signage provides a solution for sharing important real-time information. From critical health and safety updates to information on community programs, events and other important topics, digital signage can greatly improve visitor and patient experience. Streaming news and other forms of entertainment also helps occupy and destress patients while they wait for appointments. Wait times and crowd control - Digital signage empowers patients and visitors to have greater insight into wait times, which can set them at ease and prevent frustration. It can also integrate with queueing systems and provide information that helps healthcare facilities more effectively manage and control crowds that can not only threaten their ability to enforce measures like social distancing, but curb efficiency. Access to real-time information is critical as both individuals and organizations navigate COVID-19. Digital signage enables healthcare facilities to adapt quickly to changes, whether that is information updates or changes to the facility and environment.    

Podcast - Exploring Emerging Technology Trends in the COVID Era and Beyond

2020 is a year like no other, and the same goes for the year that’s been in the technology space. To break down some of the big topics and trends in technology today, Omnivex’s Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Doug Bannister, teamed up with Omnivex Product Manager Craig Marshall. They shared their experience and thoughts with host Tyler Kern. 5G is a word people hear touted as the next revolution in telecom. But do the hype and expectations match the reality? “One of the things that makes 5G different than 4G,” Bannister said, “is they’re changing the frequency at which they transmit information. It’s going to a much higher frequency. The advantage of that is at a higher frequency, you can get much higher data transmission.” The downside? “At these higher frequencies, the transmission distance drops, and that is an issue that providers will need to tackle so 5G can reach its full potential.” QR codes are not new, and, to many, they seemed never to take off. But with upgrades in technology and most smartphone cameras now equipped to read QR codes without a separate reader app, QR codes are finding new life, especially during the pandemic. “In response to COVID, most venues are rethinking how to manage crowds and people,” Marshall said. “So, having the ability to provide information to people’s phones to avoid crowding around information is desirable. People are also more reticent to touching a kiosk in a public area.” Restaurants are also tapping into the benefits of QR codes as an alternative to touching menus. Remote work is something not everyone before the pandemic could relate to, but it’s now the new normal for many, and it looks as if it is here to stay for many businesses. Technology made remote work possible, and a lot of innovations have come as a result.   “I think the technology was in place to facilitate this,” Marshall said, “it was just a matter of allowing people to access it. But, certainly, the collaborative tools out there have grown in popularity, and you’ll see greater advances in those.”        

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