The world of Digital Signage is always changing and growing in ways that are both expected and surprising for such a young industry.

One of the biggest trends is the continued growth and depth of Digital Signage. According to a June 2016 report by Markets and Markets, the Digital Signage market was valued at $16.88 Billion in 2015 and is expected to reach USD 27.34 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 6.7% between 2016 and 2022.

More and more people are being exposed to Digital Signage on a regular basis. And while there is no Magic 8 Ball available to tell us which trends will be borne out and which will fall by the wayside, there is something to be learned from each of the trends listed below: 

 1. Interactivity

The restaurant industry has been the biggest adopters of incorporating interactivity into their customer’s Digital Signage experience. The past few years have seen everything from the growth of tabletop ordering with built-in gaming to interactive Video Walls that allow for instant gratification.

Customers have mainly responded positively to the growth of interactive Digital Signage. Given that interactive menus are currently in less than 5% of full-service restaurants, it is expected that the restaurant industry will continue to grow.

But the trend of interactive Digital Signage is not limited to just restaurants, but also has been branching out in the retail and direct advertising markets.

For example, Red Bull set up a series of display advertisements that featured a BMX biker performing stunts. But they didn’t stop there, they allowed consumers to move a virtual Red Bull can on the screen. When they completed the task, they were rewarded with a free can of Red Bull from a nearby vending machine.

2. Democratization

The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council reports that in 2014, 89.4% of the 5.83 million employers in America are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Many small businesses face a number of disadvantages, such as, difficulty in raising capital, price negotiation, and hiring new talent. But one area where small businesses are starting to catch up with the big dogs is in the adoption of Digital Signage.

One of the great things about Digital Signage is that there is no one size fits all approach. Instead, small businesses will find that there are a number of companies in the market, who are able to help them get started. Additionally, helping the trend along has been the continued decrease in price points for technology in general. This has allowed for smaller businesses to make the needed investment in technology.

Another falsehood about Digital Signage is that you need to have a separate IT Department to keep your content fresh and up to date. Depending on your needs, there are Digital Signage programs that can get you started in as little as 15 minutes. While, most businesses will need to invest some time in learning and perfecting their Digital Signage messages, even the most untechy will find that they can do a lot more than they previously thought.

All of these factors come together to build on the trend of ever increased usage of Digital Signage by small businesses. Digital Signage by the people, for the people.

3. Automation  

One of the biggest selling points of Digital Signage has been its ease of use, especially compared to traditional print media. Anytime that you want to make a change, it still requires going into a content management system and making the necessary changes. So, the next natural extension is to develop a system that automatically makes changes in the content management system based upon a trigger.

A well-known purveyor of automation is IFTTT (If This Then That).  It is a free web-based service that allows people to create chains of simple conditional statements, which are referred to as applets. These applets are then triggered by changes that occur within other web services, such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Using a similar approach, Zapier is a service that moves information between your web apps automatically. viewneo is the first company to combine the concept of automation and Digital Signage.

So how does it work?

One example would be a retail store that sets a trigger if it rains. When this trigger is activated, the content management system will automatically change to present a predefined “rain” playlist. This would allow your system to highlight a sale on umbrellas, or provide updated information concerning the weather on your live ticker display.

This represents a great leap forward as Digital Signage content is now managed automatically and makes it easier than ever to make sure content is up to date.

 4. Moving Beyond Traditional Display Sizes 

Everyone is used to seeing Digital Signage in their traditional sizes as a coffee shop menu or as an interactive map at the local mall. But Digital Signage in the future will involve breaking out of the box and the proliferation of digital media in all shapes and sizes.

One of the great examples of using Digital Signage in new and innovative ways is the new Carnival Vista ship. They utilized floor to ceiling digital displays that are ever-changing and incorporate a feeling of being closer to the sea. Check out the video below, for just a quick look at their new lobby features.

The worlds of Digital Art and Signage are also starting to intersect with each other. The Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority located in Columbus, Ohio recently revealed “As We Are”, a 14-foot interactive sculpture, which is shaped like a human head.

It projects visitors’ faces onto it by using 850,000 individual LED lights. The sculpture cost $1.54 million and is hoped to become a major tourist attraction in the city. It also helps to cement the fact that Digital Art is becoming an even more established medium that will continue to see growth in the future. Check out this article in the Columbus Business First Journal if you are interested to see the sculpture in action.

5. Expansion of Technology – Threats

One of the biggest questions concerning Digital Signage has been what are the potential impacts of virtual and augmented reality on the industry. It is to be expected that anytime there is a new development that questions will arise as to the potential impacts on other industries. When firms, such as Digi-Capital estimate that the virtual reality market could be worth as much as $30 billion by 2020, it causes people to sit up and take notice. And given that America is estimated to control approximately 83% of the global virtual reality market, American companies should really be paying attention.

There are some interesting ideas out there, that are trying to bridge the gap between Digital Signage and virtual reality. Red Digital Cinema is currently working with Leia Inc on what is being referred to as the world’s first “holographic” smartphone. The goal is to create 3-D visuals that appear above the smartphone display glass. The current potential uses are gaming, movie viewing, and mixed reality applications. While, still in development, it is hoped that if the technology can be perfected that it can then also be scaled up to allow it to be used in larger Digital Signage displays.

If this trend holds, it could turn a potential threat to Digital Signage expansion into a new and unique opportunity.

6. Expansion of Technology – Opportunities

Speaking of opportunities, it feels like the whole world is opening up to Digital Signage at the moment. In response companies around the world are working on new and innovative ways to improve Digital Signage and make it relevant for their market.

One trend coming out of China takes the idea of self-ordering kiosks to the next level. Yum China Holdings has launched a new restaurant concept, KPRO by KFC, in Hangzhou, China (near Shanghai). A key feature is an integration of “Smile to Pay”, which allows for people to pay for their meals with only their face and a phone. The system is developed by Alipay, using a unique payment technology that includes a facial scan and mobile phone number for verification and payment processing.

China is not the only market that has seen the value in the development of facial recognition and Digital Signage. And while it is expected that the incorporation of facial recognition into Digital Signage will continue to increase, the real value is in being able to harvest and use the data that it presents. viewneo is currently developing their own facial recognition system that also incorporates analytics.

Because having the data is one thing, but being able to do something with it is just as important. The goal is to be able to provide users with detailed information on their customers, such as gender, age, and emotion. With this information, businesses can personalize their advertising and special offers to meet the needs of their specific customers. No more guessing as to who is noticing your ads, now you will have a comprehensive breakdown of your potential customers.