Signage platforms drive the evolution of visual communications

As advancing technology continues to enhance the many operational aspects of the airport terminal, upgrades in digital signage remain an important investment for airports. Now considered by many in the display industry to be better described as ‘visual communications systems,’ airport information signage is now capable of capturing revenue, being incorporated into attractive architectural elements, and most importantly serving as effective customer service and communication tools. Says Omnivex president Jeff Collard, “Today, a digital communication system is a live real-time information system that takes data from different places, manipulating that data by providing it in a useful visual sense.”

Comments NEC director of business development Mike Zmuda, “The term digital signage has a fairly broad connotation today.” Collard agrees, stating, “[Digital signage] is really a visual communications system; it’s how you take information and present it visually to help people make a decision.”

As airports update their technological infrastructure, some are using a holistic approach by installing comprehensive digital signage platforms that incorporate intelligent, intuitive hardware with software that provides creative content and advertising revenue possibilities, relates Collard.

Also in this article, Zmuda describes NEC’s Vukunet platform which enables advertisers and networks to work together to generate revenue; Collard explains how larger airports can leverage their technology and remotely manage visual communication campaigns for smaller airports; and Planar product marketing manager John Dixon describes Huntsville International Airport’s Clarity Matrix LCD Video Wall System.


“We have a lot of airports that are coming to a point where their systems are going to need to be replaced,” says Collard. “A lot of airports are looking at updating their infrastructure, and as part of that they’re really at the crossroads of build or buy in terms of managing all of that technology.”

Operating systems are changing with new upgrades, he says; and graphics capabilities are substantially better than a few years ago. “The challenge is that nothing in the airport industry really happens that fast.

“Airports have budgets that have to be appropriated, and there’s a lot of planning that has to go into these things. I think what you’re going to see in the next five years is a lot of airports going to an established digital signage platform, and basically building their needs upon that, rather than trying to build their own systems.”

Omnivex is a big proponent of contextual communication, remarks Collard. An example of this is the company’s Moxie platform, which among other things looks at flight information and automatically displays content in the language most relevant to a particular flight’s passengers.

“The systems are smart enough now to recognize and integrate the flight information display system (FIDS) data into the content displayed on the screen; the system renders the content to the desired effect in real-time based on external conditions,” explains Collard.

The idea of having of having intelligent content as opposed to everything being ‘pre-canned,’ he says, eliminates work on the back-end because the airport doesn’t have to plan; the system does everything intuitively once specific rules are defined (tagging metadata to content and defining the information, then giving a series of conditions that tell the system what to display in real-time).

“The concept of smart content is relatively new because typically what the airports were doing was pre-canning content, and information was based on the lowest common denominator as opposed to information most pertinent to the people who are in front of the screen,” remarks Collard.

“One of the fascinating things about airports is, a lot of them are moving away from putting everything on every screen and flooding people with information; instead they’re giving them only the information that the need to help move them to the next screen.”

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