Planet Digital Signage To Become Less Distinct from Planet Earth

The IoT, microprocessor developments and software innovations have digital signage and POS on a path toward naturalness.

buckingham palace guard
Figure 1

On Planet Earth interactivity isn’t noticed as much for its presence—given its ubiquity—but its absence. Think of the Buckingham Palace guards (Figure 1) who famously don’t react to gestures and facial expressions made in front of them. Planet Digital Signage has been a world where lack of interactivity has been the norm, but as the responses from two firms active in this space attest, that could be changing. Our thanks to Katie Eckermann, the visual embedded senior marketing manager in AMD’s Embedded Solutions Systems and Jason Zhang, product manager of Digital Signage Platforms, Advantech Corporation.

EECatalog: What’s fueling the most exciting developments in the entry-level digital signage market?

katie_eckermannKatie Eckermann, AMD: The digital signage market is being driven by the need to personalize the consumer’s experience while providing a seamless transition from the online world to the physical, in-store world. Entry-level digital signage equipment continues to become more advanced, moving from a one-way interaction with consumers to an interactive experience. This transition is driving entry-level technology to offer higher levels of performance, with more features that move beyond just displaying video or graphics on multiple screens, usually within the same power and cost envelopes.

jason_zhangJason Zhang, Advantech: The outstanding computing and graphics performance of low cost CPU chipsets (both x86 and RISC) have been spectacular and are fueling the development of the entry-level digital signage market. The software, which encompasses the operating systems, signage applications, and user friendly GUIs also further supports the development of turnkey digital signage solutions.

EECatalog: What accomplishments, either at your own company or in the industry in general, would you point to as being particularly helpful in moving the digital signage sector forward?

Zhang, Advantech: Advantech recently released free-bundled signage software, called SUSIAccess. It enables centralized management of the digital signage network installed in multiple remote locations. This signage software features a user-friendly interface for users to easily design signage layouts with simple drag/drop of video clips, still images, web pages and tickers. Users can utilize calendars and timeline-based scheduling tools to determine playback order. SUSIAccess for signage complements Advantech’s embedded hardware platforms to provide a true turnkey solution to digital signage segments and provide a one-stop shop experience for system integrators or end users.

Eckermann, AMD: From a microprocessor perspective, the increasing integration of display technology, CPU, GPU and multimedia engines means that entry-level solutions continue to increase in levels of performance and ability to have more value-added features. The key is to meet that increasing level of performance within the same cost or power envelopes of established solutions. One particular technology that is helping to solve this problem is Heterogeneous System Architecture in microprocessors. HSA enables processing engines such as the GPU to do more computing workloads outside of just pure graphics and unleashes more computing power within a single System-on-Chip (SoC). This means that more digital signage interactive experiences, such as facial recognition and image recognition, can be done in addition to the traditional digital signage functions.

EECatalog: Where do you see a need for concentrated effort and a serious commitment of resources in order to overcome a problem or problems that could otherwise stymie growth?

Eckermann, AMD: The digital signage world is working to create a seamless transition between the online world and the physical world. Furthermore, there is a trend to have all of the elements of digital signage seamlessly integrated between the point-of-sale terminals, video walls in the store and advertisements on kiosks to provide a personalized user experience. A lot of effort is still needed to unify all of these different elements in a meaningful way that benefits both the consumer and the storeowners.

Zhang, Advantech: There’s a need to provide reliable hardware solutions with an easy-to-use signage software application that allows system integrators or end users to efficiently deploy and maintain the digital signage platform in remote locations. The combination of reliable hardware and user-friendly signage software will effectively reduce system down time and the total cost of maintenance.

EECatalog: What innovations, even if not practical yet, would you like to see the industry adopt?

Zhang, Advantech: We’d like to see the digital signage industry standardize IoT integrations. With the IoT boom, more and more data resources, devices and objects will become interconnected. The world will become a global network of computers with data, sensors and devices that affect our daily lives. The impact of IoT will be paramount and will shift the norms of digital signage, mobile and wearable technologies.

Eckermann, AMD: As digital signage continues to integrate into everyday life, the way that people interact with signage should change. While there are many examples of natural interaction in digital signage today—including gesture recognition and facial recognition—they are not prevalent or pervasive in everyday places. In the future, it would be great to see a more seamless and personalized digital signage world, where the information and the interaction are both natural and personalized.

anne_fisherAnne Fisher is managing editor of Her experience has included opportunities to cover a wide range of embedded solutions in the PICMG ecosystem as well as other technologies. Anne enjoys bringing embedded designers and developers solutions to technology challenges as described by their peers as well as insight and analysis from industry leaders. She can be reached at

Jason Zhang is the Product Manager for Advantech USA, responsible for go-to-market strategies and business planning for Digital Signage, Digital Logistics and Retail solutions. He has over 10 years of experience in hi-tech engineering and product planning experience.

Katie Eckermann is the Visual Embedded Senior Marketing Manager in AMD’s Embedded Solutions Systems, with a focus on digital signage, medical imaging and industrial controls. Katie has more than 10 years’ experience in the semiconductor industry with a focus on communications and consumer markets leveraging ARM, x86 and Power Architecture solutions

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