Seven Forms of Convergence

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Earlier this month the Digital Signage Association launched its new web site. The site plays host to a number of blogs written by those within the Digital Signage industry — including yours truly. In my first DSA blog post, I reviewed the reasons for digital signage/mobile convergence and the seven common forms thereof. Although I’ve touched on both of these in this blog, I thought it would be useful to share the following excerpt from my DSA post.

What is the convergence of digital signage and mobile technologies? Simply put, it is the use of cell phones to augment the measurement of digital signage viewership and to respond to signage-generated calls-to-action. Convergence has been happening for some time, but recent wireless industry and mobile technology trends are accelerating convergence and doing so in more sophisticated ways.

Today, mobile/signage convergence is manifest in seven ways, each of which is defined below. The first of the seven is the more basic; the last of the seven is the more sophisticated and represents the future of convergence.

  • DTMF This method utilizes the touch-tones generated by a cell phone’s key pad to respond to or control content on a digital sign. Touch tone interactions are recorded and tracked on the back-end for the purpose of quantifying signage viewership and call-to-action responses.
  • SMS: This method employs one or more message embedded in the signage content that invites signage viewers to initiate a text-based interaction through the dispatch of a keyword to a text-based common short code. The interactions are recorded on the back-end and statistically analyzed to estimate digital signage viewership.
  • 2D Bar Codes: This method enlists digital signage viewers to user their cell phones to photograph a 2D Bar Code that is present in the digital signage content. The cell phone employs an application that interprets the bar code and directs the phone to display content that is connected to the bar code. These 2D interactions are recorded on the back-end and statically analyzed to extrapolate viewership.
  • Bluetooth: This method uses a Bluetooth transceiver situated near the digital signage to initiate a wireless data connection to the viewer’s Bluetooth-enabled handset as the viewer comes in close proximity to the screen. Once the connection is established, the system sends the viewer content that augments and enhances content on the digital signage. The system also tracks who, where and when these interactions were established thereby creating an extrapolation of signage viewership.
  • Photo Recognition: This method is similar to 2D Bar Codes expect that rather than photographing a bar code, the viewer photographs the entire digital sign. An application on the cell phone then interprets the photo and directs the phone to display content that augments the content on the sign. These interactions are then statistically analyzed to extrapolate signage viewership.
  • Mobile Web: This method utilizes digital signage content that promotes URL’s that link to content that is designed for presentation on a mobile phone’s browser. The mobile content then augments the content on the digital signage. Just as with the other mobile methodologies, viewer interactions with the mobile web are statistically analyzed for the purpose of extrapolating viewership.
  • Location-Based: This method utilizes a cell phone’s geo-positioning capability to deliver content to a viewer. The content on the digital signage invites the viewer to launch an application on their cell phone. The application determines the longitude and latitude coordinates of the viewer and the delivers content that augments the content presented on the digital signage. These interactions are statistically analyzed for the purpose of extrapolating signage viewership.

As I noted above, I believe that the last of the seven convergence methodologies, Location Based Convergence, represents the future of the digital signage/mobile collaborative experience. The growing adoption of the latest generation of sophisticated smartphones coupled with the more-expansive smartphone eco-systems will be the be the key enabler.

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