DSE Wraps Week of Digital Accolades

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By David Keene

The Digital Signage Expo is wrapped. The show, held Wednesday and Thursday of last week, drew an increased attendance over last year, according to the show's organizers (last year there 1200+ attendees), and over 100 exhibitors displayed digital signage networking, display, and content management tools. There was a good sampling of everything from digital mannequins for retail (from Electrosonic) to a plethora of content management software from a variety of vendors, as well as, of course, the latest in Plasma and LCD panels from Samsung, LG, Planar, Pioneer, Panasonic, and more. Next year, the Digital Signage Expo moves in both place and time: to Las Vegas, Feb. 27-28, 2008.
DSE had a strong conference component, with hot topics in mobile phone technology, at-retail digital signage, filling the conference rooms.
The State of the Nation panel, moderated by Dale Smith of Peerless Industries. Max Engel of Frost & Sullivan and iSuppli's Rick Sizemore parsed the market and where it's headed.
In the "Making Technology Easier" session, Brad Gleeson from Planar Systems led Matt Nelson of Avocent, Jeff Porter from Scala, and Michael Girgis from ONESTOP Media Group'sn search of "desmystifying" digital signage for the client.
"Retail Digital Futures" moderated by myself, was not about creating a place on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to trade digital signage futures, but featured Lisa Bradner from Forrester Research and Gwen Morrison of The Store in discussion of key DS issues at retail, and how the cross-channel media campaign will probably be the best approach to digital at-retail.
It wouldn't be a show without Awards, and two separate groups recognized some of the most innovative digital signage applications with awards. DSE itself unveiled winners of its Digital Signage Awards at a reception Wednesday evening. Winners were:
• Best in Class: Creative Content for Financial Banking: Umpqua Bank (nominated by Nanonation)
• Best in Class: Creative Content for Hospitality: Royal Caribbean International (nominated by Nanonation)
• Best in Class: Creative Content for Environmental Design Integration: Canterbury Park, (nominated by Wireless Ronin) • Best in Class: Creative Content in a Public Space: Aquaria (nominated by Scala)
• Best in Class: Creative Content in a Retail Store: Zia Sleep Sanctuary Store (nominated by Wireless Ronin)
Interactivity Innovation: Boss U.S., nominated by AdMart Custom Signage

Late Thursday, wearing my hat as the Chair of the Judges committee for the DIGI Awards (co-sponsored by Digital Signage Quarterly magazine and The Digital Signage Group), I hosted a panel made of DIGI Award Winners. The 2007 DIGI Awards honored 13 winners in five categories: Retail, Corporate, Transportation, Education/Healthcare, and Judges' Choice. On hand at the panel at DSE, were winners:
• Winner for "Retail Application, with Interactive and/or Tracking feature": DSX Media, for Walnut Valley Garden Center. Unique system for commercial (plant/garden) nurseries that lets customers call up their lots on Google Earth to get detailed info for help in selecting products for their lots. Jim Collins of DSX Media shared with the audience the challenges of setting up what had to be a mobile flat panel system that could be moved around the retail nursery. And he explained how thrilled customers were to be able to call up hi-res images of their homes and lots on Google Earth, so that they could order soil, fertilizer, plants, etc without guessing the amount needed. The system could calculate their lot size down to the square foot.
• Winner for the "Corporate Application, Excellence in Technology": Hospitality Partners, for Hyatt Regency Chicago. A robust system with 103 inch plasma, and featuring mobile flat panels. Jim Drysch from Hospitality Partners, and Jeff Collard of Omnivex offered insights into this impressive installation at the Hyatt, which was in fact the show hotel for DSE. Hospitality Partners provides "hotel AV" on a contract basis, but is one of the few of the hotel AV companies to delve in a serious way into digital signage.
• Winner of the "Transportation Application, Excellence in Technology" award was GDS, for Siemens Nederland N.V., for a digital signage system on trains that spans several northern EU countries. Mike Lesko of GDS was on hand elucidate the system.
• Winner of the "Education/Healthcare Application, Excellence in Technology" award went to Multi-Media Solutions, for the University of Tennessee Football Hall of Fame. Video-rich system incorporates huge base of archival footage, and broadcast capabilities. Mike White of Multi-Media Solutions shared his experience working with a strong-willed football coach at UT was able to push through budget for some innovative features in the system.

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