All the familiar forms of media are becoming increasingly interactive, but outdoor media has been lagging behind to an extent, thanks to its old ‘broadcast’ image. There have however been major technological strides in the field of outdoor signage recently. These show clearly that it has considerable potential for advertisers who want to deliver engaging, highly targeted ads that are relevant to the modern world.
The development of facial recognition software is one such stride, allowing owners to identify people walking past their signs and when they’re doing so. This enables the relevant advertisements to be served up for a more appropriately targeted audience. Facial recognition cameras mounted behind such posters record details such as time, age and sex, and they can also even identify mood through facial expressions. There may be some issues with the legality of storing such data, but the fact remains that theoretically we now have the technology available to us to personalise to the extreme degree of one-on-one advertising.
Smaller formats for digital ads now often incorporate touch screen interactivity. These will soon be able to do such things as allowing users to get discount vouchers sent to their email account, phone or Facebook page and then use them in the associated store.
The ability to control instantly the content of signage allows advertisers to tailor messages in an unprecedented way based on many different types of criteria. During a recent world cup campaign, Nike ran ads that changed according to the latest results by the England team.
There are also lots of associated technologies that will change the ways in which outdoor signage can interact with its target audiences. Reality applications, for instance, should soon make it possible for even the humble print poster site to become interactive. Click2C technology will connect users instantaneously with different types of content that has been streamed into smart phones via the mobile web.
Flexible display screens
Another increasingly important technology that will have extensive implications for outdoor signage and which is already finding a wide range of other applications is the development of flexible display screens. In the past, displays using traditional LCD technology have been limited by the need for a rigid substrate, but companies like Plastic Logic have overcome this through the application of plastic transistors.
Plastic Logic’s CEO Indro Mukerjee said recently that: “Plastic Logic’s flexible plastic displays are completely transformational in terms of product interaction.”
He added that: “Plastic Logic’s development of a colour flexible plastic display is particularly significant, since the same process could enable unbreakable, flexible display solutions with other media such as LCD and OLED.”
The company’s flexible plastic transistor technology, for instance, has resulted in different sizes of flexible plastic displays in monochrome as well as in colour. It offers these in a range of standard sizes and can also customise them to individual requirements.
A revolution in the making
Signage design is set to be revolutionised by the increasing use of such ultra-lightweight, wafer-thin and high-quality displays enabling innovative new solutions.
The application of the new technology that utilises robust, flexible display screens includes their use in smart phones, credit cards, tablets and e-readers as well as in outdoor signage.
We can expect a whole new range of devices with flexible displays to hit the stores soon, as designers and manufacturers increasingly incorporate this new technology into their products. The way we interact with signage in our environment is about to undergo a radical transformation.