Winding Up CETW, Winding Down the Hype

11/25/2011

CETW (Customer Engagement Technology World) in New York last week was a good place to catch up with some folks, as we start winding up 2011. Smaller trade shows and/or conferences are often good places to more calmly take in trends in the industry– or at least to step back and look at some quieter trends without the hype of a 20,000 or 50,000 attendee trade event. I’m not sure significant trends showed themselves on the trade show floor– but at a quieter, more compact show, it’s possible to find the people you’ve come to meet– and sit down for some nice conversation (at some nice Tribeca joints, preferably).

CETW has always stated that its mandate was to attract end users. And as the name of the event implies, we’re talking mainly Digital Out of Home (DOOH), not digital signage in general. And if it’s in New York– were talking, who? Well, Brands, Retailers, and/or Agencies. Just one of those camps showing up would be a victory. In an informal survey of exhibitors towards the close of the show on Thursday, I heard positive feedback that in fact some prominent end users were on the floor, making contacts. Agencies? I’m not sure. I know that several prominent Retailers were there.

I would not stretch to try to extrapolate trends from the modest number of exhibitors at CETW. It’s more a case of just hearing a few things above the noise that consumes so many larger shows. Last week, I wrote about NanoLumens’ new LED line; about some major acquisition and people news from Saddle Ranch, and ComQi. On the subject of content producers (Saddle Ranch), it’s interesting to note that NanoLumens had the guys from PixelFire in their booth– as PixelFire provided the content that ran on the NanoLumens screens. I had a chance to catch up with Steve Bumstead, President of Pixelfire at CETW last week. They’re doing some very interesting things– a lot of them in that cauldron of digital signage that is Times Square. Times Square in New York is in fact evolving rapidly. The digital signage there is multiplying like, well, wildfire, or pixel fire I suppose is a good way to describe it. And PixelFire is doing some amazing things. I’m talking not just about throwing up content on the big screens (that would be impressive enough, if you seen the mishmash of formats there). I’m talking major movie premiers, where live Times Square content is synched with other media. I’m talking literally blocking off traffic in Times Square and doing a live event that, oh yes, includes digital signage on gargantuan screens. Amazing things. (Can you spell SMPTE code, and digital signage. When have you heard SMPTE and digital signage used in the same sentence? That would be never.)

Touching on a few topics that you can’t ignore in digital signage, Kiosks, and projection for digital signage, CETW offered a few tidbits.

Remember that CETW really is an extension of the old “Kioskcom” show– and that Kiosks, as opposed to digital signage, are still key to the event. There was some buzz at the show about Kodak’s presence there. Not so much about what Kodak was showing or announcing there, but about Kodak itself. After acquisitions in the digital signage space, what’s up with Kodak? They have the muscle to make an impact. We can probably cut to the chase: Kodak, with their in-store kiosks for consumer photo processing, has real estate in pharmacies, grocery stores, etc. So their execs think they can flip that physical and bandwidth real estate over to digital signage. They probably can. But it appears they are going after the low hanging fruit: marketing low-end digital signage/photo frame solutions directly to retailers. Probably not much there for either the channel, or interactive digital signage that is the future.

On the projection front, Casio showed at CETW. Casio is unique in the market, of projector manufacturers. They use one laser combined with an LED illuminated DLP  light engine in the Casio GREEN SLIM Projector. It’s really a revolutionary product, because it’s a “lamp free” projector. In the past, high lumen output has not been their forte. But they have a 4K lumen unit now, that they showed at CETW.

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