Tag Archives: audio-visual

Interactive digital signage is far from despicable

140-Grand-VIsual-Despicable-MeHave your children dragged you over to a Despicable Me 2 sign yet? If they have we don’t blame them, as Universal Pictures have come up with a promotional campaign that integrates smart phone control, interactive digital signage and social media sharing. The ‘Command the Minions’ campaign allows users to control the characters on screen with their smartphones and then watch the movements instantly, with the viewer’s name displayed to say thanks.

The interactive campaign was set up by Clear Channel, planned and coordinated by TED@MediaCom and powered by an app designed by Grand Visual. By either texting or tweeting a shortcode, the technology links from an SMS or web app to allow up to 30 animated sequences to be commanded. OpenLoop, the campaign management dashboard, helped create the real time interaction and personalised response in the specific mall. To continue the promotion, the user will then receive a text with a code that can share your “movie” on your social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

The campaign is currently running on 259 screens in 51 shopping malls across the UK, France, Spain, Norway and Finland, so keep an eye out and give it a try for yourself. Below is a video to demonstrate.

If you are interested in implementing some interactive digital signage for your business, feel free to contact us to discuss some ideas.

Is the hype of 3D already dying out?

3DTV_glassesIMAGEEntering a 3-dimensional world through our screens became all the rage when the likes Avatar created an immersive experience filled with colour. The thought of putting on these magical glasses was exciting and previous films were reborn with this extra technology. Then we wanted it in our living rooms, to make home cinema even greater and while we’re at it, let’s watch the football with it too.
Obviously, every company caught on and televisions were made with built-in 3D capabilities and glasses sold additionally, as families crowded round the flat screen for a futuristic night in. Nowadays is another story, with those who have the necessary hardware not tending to bother with it, especially just for television and this is why the BBC will be abandoning the idea until 2016 at least. ESPN also decided to ditch the extra dimension last month with 3D sports broadcasts being shut down by the end of the year.

Apparently the audience find the concept “too hassly”, due to the glasses and the arguments over the best seat to capture the quality. Not only that but many have complained about lack of colour and the fact that often television is not the sole activity you’ll be doing and therefore the glasses interfere with other activities such as checking your phone, or talking to others in the room. Although most high end TV sets available on the high street do have 3D capabilities, its likely that if this decrease continues, manufacturers will push 4K more than ever.

Its not just in the home where the hype is starting to fade. Despite many cinemas introducing new passive glasses thought to be more comfortable, films don’t seem to be grasping the use of the technology and there is a lack of objects flying out in your face, despite a hefty ticket price and probable headache. If the third dimension is already dying out in home cinema, it will be interesting to see if recent digital signage applications will hit it off. This year’s ISE event showcased LG’s 3D video wall, which received a huge buzz due to no glasses being needed.

What are your thoughts on 3D?

Germany tests out talking train windows

bone conduction technologyBBDO Germany are using bone conduction technology to create adverts that start playing to a passenger when they lean their head on the window.

Bone conduction technology is a technique where sound is transmitted to the inner ear by passing vibrations through the skull and makes it feel as though the sound is coming from inside the users’ head. Advertising company BBDO developed the concept for broadcasters Sky Deutschland and the Talking Window campaign was showcased recently at the Cannes’ Festival of Creativity.

The audio is created by a transmitter made by Audiva and is attached to the windows, yet no one else can hear the message around you. Although this concept may sound very annoying for the public just wanting to rest their tired heads, this is only the beginning and the future may hold several more applications, including entertainment, music or transport information, wiping out headphones on trains.

You may have heard about bone conduction technology before in out Tech Zone, as it has been used for the sound on the latest phenomenon Google Glass. Other applications that have already been created using the technology is hearing aids, headphones for swimmers and athletes and for magician’s illusions.

We just thought we’d give you a head’s up before you worried you were going insane from the voices inside your head.

For more audio solutions, please feel free to contact us.

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The rise of tablets in education

It was obvious tablets were going to continue their popular demand in the education sector but for many it was a surprise just how quick the increase has occurred. The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) have compiled some interesting facts regarding the needs and hopes for schools, so we put a few of the important stats into an infographic for you.

For more information on school technology please feel free to contact us. We have a wide client base in the education sector and some of work can be found on our Education page.

New touch screen technology thought to be more energy efficient

Touch screen experts Peratech have created a solution for touch screen applications that allows for a more energy efficient system. Due to the QTC Ultra Sensor being placed behind the screen, there is no loss of light from the display, meaning less battery is used.

This technology has been working best with OLED and e-paper type displays but can also be used on other products. LCD is not advised as they cannot really be pressed. Normally touch screen devices require a layer over the top of the display, which causes slight light loss, so having the technology behind the screen means brightness and quality in the image will not be lost.

QTC, which stands for Quantum Tunnelling Composite material, means the material changes its resistance when pressure is applied and only then. It means power is only used when the screen is touched, unlike previous technologies that need continual power for the active sensing matric. Apparently the QTC will also be a lot cheaper, due to limitless size opportunities regardless of the matrix interference and the company have already made examples that are 2m by 1m.

It will probably be a while until this concept is brought onto the high street, so if you have any queries or requirements involving touch screen now, please feel free to contact us.

 

Highlights from European Sign Expo 2013

vueintimannequinDespite so many experts fully believing that digital signage will soon overtake the print business, the European Sign Expo is tucked away into a small corner, whilst the rest of FESPA engrosses the London ExCel with monstrous looking printers and paper galore.

There were debates going on early in the day over at the Screenmedia Theatre regarding the battle between print and digital signage and either way the technology is consistently improving over in the European Sign Expo. With it being the first of its kind here in London, the expo is relatively full and both old and new exhibitors emerge from the stalls.

Amongst familiar faces including Brightsign and Innova, there were a few names that caught our eye when it came to fresh ideas. The virtual mannequin has been seen from several companies and is slowly becoming a more common sight in the likes of hospitals, attractions and retail. Although this is the first thing you notice at Vueinti’s stall it soon becomes apparent their innovation spreads much further. Their mannequin has some extended features, such as being muted until a movement sensor realises someone is close by. Although the stall was relatively bear, due to a last minute offer to exhibit, Vueinti were happy to showcase some other great products via iPad. Their Retail Brand Activation is likely to be a huge hit in retail as the display case senses when a product is picked up. This then triggers the digital signage screen above to display information about the product of interest and uses LED lighting to spotlight the item on the shelf. The display also incorporates analytical software so that gender and age can be picked up for market research. This concept has also been attached to their mannequins, meaning the virtual informer is only activated when a product is picked up.

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Airgoo were another name that caught our attention due to the size of their latest signage player. With a MicroPlayer the size of a USB memory stick, this cost effective solution uses WiFi and 3G to display ready to upload content. Even if your internet connection it lost, the content will continue looping until you retrieve signal, so your screen will never freeze or turn off. Unlike other brands, Airgoo’s player can transform any brand of television into a digital signage display as long as it has a HDMI port. The CMS (Content Management System) is web based and although this helps with scheduling and grouping screens, it does not offer a way of creating the content, meaning you either send over the content from your previous software via RSS, or use outsourced designers.airgoo

As you can see, many of the eye catching technologies appeal more to a retail sector and although Pyramid’s Polytouch screens on show may appear that way as well, you soon realise the possibilities are pretty vast. With a quick mounting system to upgrade when necessary, the platform also integrates a chip and PIN device, barcode scanner and even a camera to interact further. The obvious applications of self service and product information for retail may be the first concept that springs to mind, but Polytouch has been applied successfully for banking, events and hospitality as well.

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Digital signage is continuing to grow and can be applied to any business. If you don’t want to get left behind, why not contact us for a free of charge health check, where we can recommend the best solution for you?

Medical lectures using ghost hologram

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There was a huge reaction when Tupac was displayed via hologram at last year’s Coachella Festival and despite its usage for other entertainment; a London university has used the Pepper’s Ghost illusion to enhance its learning opportunities.

Two junior doctors have developed effects so that a large scale hologram can be displayed in medical lectures, with last week demonstrating a 4 metre kidney. Research in education has shown that more interactive teaching, including 3D, can increase attention span and this 3D graphic can be controlled by the lecturer, so that particular parts can be viewed. The scale of the image means attention to detail required by medical students can be viewed with ease, however both students and professors alike do not feel this will fully replace traditional methods. Dr Sugand reminds us, “Nothing can substitute dissecting a cadaver – it is the optimal and most traditional way of learning anatomy. But multimedia has become a way of complementing, not replacing that process.”

Unlike a standard hologram, the Pepper’s Ghost illusion uses glass or foil combined with special lighting techniques to make objects appear in mid-air. And three projectors are used to create the full colour images but need you’ll need a large auditorium for such big graphics.

The developers are still creating a large library of animations to utilise but it’s unlikely we will see this in action regularly for a while. If you would like more information on education or healthcare systems, please feel free to contact us.

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A simple diagram to explain the Pepper’s Ghost illusion

 

InfoComm 2013 round up

infocommshowUnfortunately Paragon was unable to jet over to Florida for the week but InfoComm 2013 was still filled to the brim for its largest show ever, with over 35,000 through the doors.  Although many of our better known brands such as Vivitek, Draper and NEC were in attendance, it was newer products that caught our eye in the various launches shared.

One press preview that stood out was over on the DLP stand, where a hybrid technology consisting of a short throw projector and a multi-touch display prototype created a fully interactive screen on any surface. The 3,000 lumen projector uses sensor technology to connect the two together however there was no implication of market possibilities anytime soon.

Black Box’s digital signage players aren’t products we had personally heard of before but perhaps this is because their Q series stands for “quiet”. The fanless media players used a finned design instead, including a heat sink to avoid overheating without the noise.

4K still seems to be one of the main buzzwords for 2013 and while many are still getting to grips with the concept, Planar Inc. have taken their LCD product line a step further with multi-touch and multi-user capabilities. Being one of the first of its kind to combine collaboration with the ultra-high resolution, the image clarity and multiple touch points create an ideal solution for way-finding, product catalogues and interactive digital signage.

If you are interested in 4K, interactive touch screens or any other new products on our Tech Zone, please feel free to contact us.

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Cloud schools could benefit third world countries

Cloud computing

We all know how much technology has changed the way we teach and learn within the education sector but Professor Sugata Mitra has managed to take these ideas to a whole new level. Prof. Anant Agarwai has already set up one online school, known as ‘edX’, where one million students have already enrolled to access a variety of online courses. The content has been shared from around 27 partners at universities, creating a non-profit project that could help poorer countries, who are yet to have formal education, as well as here on home soil.

“Education has not changed in 500 years – we still herd children like cats into classrooms at 9am”, he explained. This model will involve an adult supervisor on the other side of the screen but a lot of it will involve the children having to organise themselves. Thanks to investments from the likes of MIT and Harvard universities, the Prof. Mitra hopes to open five online schools, three in India and two in the UK. The establishment will be a glass pod filled with computers and a large screen for the supervisor to be seen on and have some authority over the children.

When he did a similar project in 1999, Mitra dealt with an influx of interest and children were eager to play games but it eventually calmed down into a great learning tool. For areas where there are no teachers or good teachers available, the cloud school covers the problem whilst using support from some of the world’s top professors. Another part of the project involves “cloud grannies”. Retired people in the UK can connect via Skype to youth clubs over in India and offer activities such as reading a story and this is something that is thought to be incorporated into the schools.

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Sugata Mitra at TEDGlobal

Prof. Sugata Mitra’s talk at the TEDGlobal conference about cloud schools can be found on Youtube.

Fourth Steljes SHAPE event hits Oxford

shape2013logoResellers and integrators congregated at the F1 Williams Conference Centre last week to be educated on all things Smart. With technical training available for Smart products and AMX’s RPM (Rapid ProjectMaker) software, engineers are busy keeping up to date with the latest installation opportunities. The vendor village offered a closer look into some of the equipment discussed in the seminars throughout the day with Steljes and their partners in full force to educate.

The seminars throughout the day offered a vast range of ideas for how to incorporate collaborative solutions and although we’re aware of its uses in the education sector, the corporate talk was much more eye opening. With Microsoft Lync becoming a popular factor of the modern office, Smart’s own software Meeting Pro manages to combine with this product’s advantages for a seamless meeting. After shocking statistics including the fact that 28% of workers find meetings to be “pointless” being shared, it is understandable that companies want to find ways to save time and money on travel and sometimes video conferencing just won’t do. The combination of these programmes helps create not only a system for video and audio, but also for collaboration, so anyone involved in the meeting can annotate and make notes in real time and save and send where necessary. Check out our feature on Meeting Pro coming soon.

BenQ’s “Using iPads in the Classroom” showed a short demonstration of the progressively favoured DisplayNote software, however due to internet problems the seminar was cut short. The Steljes training team offered a first glance of their training portal concept for teachers which will be available soon. Despite the worries that interactive whiteboards were losing the battle against sleeker touchscreen LCDs, Smart are far from getting left behind in the collaborative market.