Blue Sky Ideas for Digital Signage

EPISODE 139 | Guest: Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix

Digital signage is becoming so commonplace that people are starting to find some truly unique and exciting new ways to use it. Using online research and some suggestions from ChatGPT, we’ve gathered some interesting and unusual ways to use digital signage in a number of environments, some of which are being done already, while others may happen in the near future.

  • Hear about mood, relaxation, education and storytelling-driven screens
  • Explore digital animal adoption and dynamic cemetery memorials
  • Get examples of how AI and AR might complement digital signage
  • Discover what may be included in next-generation restaurant boards
  • Learn about real-time translation, digital town hall boards and more

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Get more content ideas in our free Digital Signage Content Guide here.


Derek DeWitt: In a previous episode, we talked about uncommonly common uses of digital signage and, while looking into that topic, we found, well, more uses for digital signs that some of which are a little bit maybe out there, or at least very interesting. We’re gonna call them “blue sky ideas”. And our background research on this was done with the help of ChatGPT.

So, we’re gonna be talking about some things that are actually happening and a few things that might happen in the future, the near future. To step through all this with me today, I’m joined by Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix. Hi, Deb.

Debbie DeWitt: Hi, Derek.

Derek DeWitt: You ready to get kind of wacky when thinking about the future of digital signage?

Debbie DeWitt: Let’s get crazy.

Derek DeWitt: All right. I’d like to thank Deb for talking to me today, and of course, everybody out there for listening to this episode of Digital Signage Done Right. Don’t forget you can’t subscribe, you can review us, and you can follow along with a transcript on the Visix website under resources and podcasts.

So, we’re gonna look at a list of some new, potentially fantastical, and unusual uses for digital signage that really push the boundaries of traditional applications. We’ve talked a lot in the past about data-driven content and so on, but what about content that’s driven by mood?

Debbie DeWitt: Ooh!

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, ooh! Like I’m thinking of like an art installation, right. Where it kind of, because there are sensors and there’s IoT involved, it can kind of, by reading people’s facial expressions and maybe hearing what they’re saying and talking about, read the mood of the room.

Debbie DeWitt: I think temperature, noise level, things like that.

Derek DeWitt: Things like that. Sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so therefore, then the display, which is the artwork, changes, creating this immersive dynamic experience that responds to the people in the room at the moment.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, I think it’s cool. And I think you could actually kind of do this now just by asking people to rate their mood with like a simple, but you know how like when you go to airport bathroom, it says, how was your bathroom experience, and it’s literally just four faces, like smiley faces?

Derek DeWitt: Yeah.

Debbie DeWitt: I think you could do that, and then that triggers data or triggers artwork, or that…. It’s kind of combining that survey idea with art.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, for sure. And of course, art installations could also be triggered by weather. I mean, that seems pretty easy. It can read the amount of sunlight and the quality of the light, so it’ll know if it’s sunny or if it’s overcast or if it’s raining or something like that. So, like try and imagine a mural or a sculpture that completely changes its appearance depending on what the realtime weather conditions are.

Debbie DeWitt: I mean, that sculpture or mural has to be made out of screens then, you know, if that’s what you’re talking about.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Or it could be a projector that’s projecting onto a physical thing, and so it’s a kind of a combination of something physical, something digital.

Debbie DeWitt: Could be. I mean, it is digital signage that we’re talking about, so….. I will say this. I love that so many of the things it came up with are art focused. Because, yes, the most common uses of digital signage are to show event schedules or HR notices or whatever. But if nothing else, this, I hope inspires people to just do that creatively.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. I think most people think it’s an IT system, and we know that IT is very often tasked in most organizations with shopping for and purchasing digital signage. But it isn’t. It uses IT, but it is a communications system. And it’s increasingly becoming a two-way system.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And it’s a system that lets you be really creative in how you craft and deliver whatever messaging you’re trying to get out there.

Derek DeWitt: Sure. Speaking of creative, how about interactive pet adoption screens?

Debbie DeWitt: Yes!

Derek DeWitt: Seriously. Animal shelters are starting to use digital signage to showcase the pets that they have available for adoption. You learn about each animal, you get to see videos of ’em, you learn some stuff about their eating habits, their personalities. You can use the touchscreen to express interest or to share information on social networks. I’m not allowed a cat in my building, but I know some people who are; tap, tap, tap, boom, now it’s on my social media. And this, of course, then helps increase the chances that out furry and feathered and even scaled friends will find a nice home for themselves.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, I think it’s an awesome idea. I can see it being like, you know, Amazon where you actually check type of animal do you want, what size, you know, certain breeds. You know, you could actually sort and filter, you know?

Derek DeWitt: Right!

Debbie DeWitt: And I kind of think a lot of people….

Derek DeWitt: No snakes!

Debbie DeWitt: No, but a lot of people are doing… A lot of shelters are doing this on their website. You know, a lot of people get intimidated by, you know, interactive touchscreen design, dah, dah, dah. It’s, if you think of it like a website, if you think of it as just bring your website down to that screen. Take what you’re trying to put in front of people, what you’re trying to let them do and put it there. But I would say of course, you have to have cuddle time to close the deal.

Derek DeWitt: Sure. I think that’s true. Absolutely. They need to smell you.

Speaking of augmented reality mirrors, you can go a step further and have augmented reality shopping windows, right? People walking by can use their smartphone to interact with the digital display and right there on the street try out different accessories or clothing items. Things like this really merge the online and offline shopping experiences. I think it’s enticing to customers, and it would encourage them to explore a brand’s offerings in a much more captivating way.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. It’s kind of an extension of that fitting room, like you said, or the home closet tech. Window displays are their own art, you know, especially at the holidays, a lot of, certainly the larger stores in cities, you know, that’s a whole thing, go out and take a look at the windows.

Derek DeWitt: Oh, yeah.

Debbie DeWitt: But bringing those screens, you know, the glass screen that also lets you do messaging in it, or what I like better is using phones. You know, we’ve done a lot of AR here in our city with different festivals and things, and man, it’s just cool. And if you can do that, and of course if it’s retail, you tie it into a promo; or if it’s community-based, you get ’em to sign up for your newsletter; or if it’s a campus, tie it in with, I don’t know, a treasure hunt or you get some sort of, you know, swag.

Derek DeWitt: Right.

Debbie DeWitt: But, you know, gamify it and that kind of thing. So yeah, like you said, it’s all about just connecting with those audience members.

Derek DeWitt: What about smart vending machine interfaces? I think we’re starting to see a version of this around. I think there are quite a few in Japan now. Product details, nutritional information, personalized recommendations, so it’s like a menu board and personalized content and digital signage. And it’s a vending machine.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And they’re not just in Japan. I mean, they’re on the loading docks of convention centers. I mean, they’re everywhere. So, I mean, we are, at least, we’ve already known that, like, vending machines went digital. They’ve got SmartPay. The entire front now is a digital sign, basically. So it’s a lot of advertising, a lot of promo stuff. But like you said, I think it’d be cool if they go further than that. You know, maybe we work in that mood stuff. You know, maybe we work in weather triggers so that it’s like, it’s colder or you seem to be unhappy, you need a Mountain Dew.

Derek DeWitt: Realtime language translation. Especially as AI becomes more and more integrated into digital signage technology, I think we’re gonna see that it’s not only going to be, oh, I can choose from a number of different languages at the bottom of the screen by tapping the button, now it’s in Spanish, now it’s in French, now it’s in German. But the languages will explode in the number of them that are available. And you may have content instantly translated. Like you said, it is kind of like these are becoming websites in many ways. I do that with Chrome right now. I can translate any website in any language into English.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. We’re doing a lot of multilingual interactive designs for our clients. Because I mean, obviously if you’ve got a touchscreen, you know, you’re trying to engage your whole audience. If some of them don’t speak English, why would you ignore them? You’re just leaving that money or that goodwill on the table.

And I think that in the future, it’d be very cool, like you said, with simultaneous translation, either outputting that as text on the screen, you know, literally changing what comes up based on someone’s just choice of language. But also, we’re getting a lot more voice user interface where you speak to a screen and ask it to tell you something. So that could be, you know, text-to-voice coming back at you in your language.

But I think we might get around some of this because there’s more and more motion and gesture control coming in, too, where we’re going to nonverbal forms of communication. Which is another way to get through the language barrier.

Derek DeWitt: For sure, for sure. Here’s an interesting idea. Dynamic cemetery memorials. Apparently, there are some cemeteries out there, I know that there were some that in the early days of QR codes started incorporating QR codes into headstones. And now we’re starting to see dynamic digital displays for departed loved ones – photos, videos, stories about the deceased stories, stories by the deceased. This, again, allows visitors to really engage with the memories of their loved ones in a really unique and personalized way. And obviously, again, the content can be updated over time, so that the memorials remain relevant and meaningful.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. You could have a visitor’s book and people get to write notes. But I will just say, I do not want this. Absolutely not. I feel like there’s some places where we don’t need screens. I don’t mind the idea of the QR code, because then you can walk away from that place. What I just hope is that there’s not, like I go to visit my grandmother’s grave and two graves down, there’s a giant video blaring. It sounds like a circus. Like, for me, I’m a no.

Derek DeWitt: Right. My uncle loved this song. I’m gonna play it over and over.

Debbie DeWitt: He was a death metal bass player.

Derek DeWitt: Now, one of the things we often say digital signage is great for is raising awareness, whether that’s something that’s going on in the organization or at a particular location or facility, or just about things in general.

What I’m thinking about here is green energy awareness. We’re talking about, like, integrating digital signage with environmental sensors. This is real IoT stuff. So, the sensors gather information about the specific environment and then display real-time information on energy consumption, water consumption, the use of renewable energy sources and so on, which could be used to raise awareness and encourage sustainable practices, as well as promote any initiatives that already exist in the organization.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. Sustainability is a really big topic in corporate communications right now. And if you have something like a LEED-certified building or, you know, one of these environmentally-aware buildings, this is something that you can tie into and put that on your displays.

We used to have something called an EnergyBoard™. We can still do it, but it used to be a package, now it’s something that would be custom. But it basically didn’t even have to use the sensors. It just tied into your building management software, so it kind of used an API. But yeah, it did data visualizations of progress to goals. ‘Cause it would show you, you know, this is how much water we’re using, but this was our goal. And, you know, it was shown to be really effective. It’s really about influencing people’s behavior.

Derek DeWitt: This kind of an idea can extend beyond just a particular building, for example. I mean, if you are a, say, local chamber of commerce or local government office or something, the whole town or the whole city or that whole neighborhood at least, is sort of within your purview. I mean, it could technically extend out to include a whole geographical area.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. It’s all just about, you know, getting the technology in place to measure and then getting that to tie into your screens.

Derek DeWitt: Which I think segues quite nicely into this next idea, cultural and historical storytelling. How often are we walking around, those of us who live in cities, wondering, hey, you know, what’s that? What used to be here? When was this park built? And so on. So, what about using outdoor digital signage, or even indoor at cultural sites or historical sites, to give sort of an immersive storytelling experience? So, visitors can interact with the signage, they can learn more about the history of the location (even before the building was built), its cultural significance (that particular structure), related stories, and so on. I mean, you can kind of drill down that as deeply as you like.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, I think this would be really great for like museums. And, you know, we mentioned before, we do a lot of timelines and things like that, that are sort of a play on donor boards or alumni boards or athletics teams for schools and colleges. But, you know, one of the things I’ve been thinking about, and I’ve actually mentioned to you, is it’d be very cool, this takes it off the digital signage screen, but to have AR things. Like, if I’d love to walk up to a building, be able to scan a QR code or something, and launch, you know, a slideshow of what did this street look like over the decades.

Derek DeWitt: That would be cool. From that particular spot, especially, if you could manage it.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. But, you know, until we’re there, you can certainly do this with digital signage now.

Derek DeWitt: I mean, you could even drill right down and stick this kind of thing on bus stops. Turning bus stops or tram stops into storytelling stops or interactive storytelling hubs, if you like. People are already hanging around waiting for their public transportation (hopefully not too long). But still, you got kind of a captive audience there. And this gives them a chance to learn local stuff, share interesting facts, maybe get local community news, not just about the transportation network, but just even what’s going on around this metro station? What’s going on this weekend? Is there a half marathon? Are we gonna have traffic stoppages? Things like that.

Debbie DeWitt: I think anything you can turn into a story is a better piece of content than just saying it as an announcement or something. I think the bus stop idea is cool. It’d be very cool, of course, being in Europe, they have, like, double-decker buses for every popular city, that at each stop, you could tell sort of the little history of that area.

Derek DeWitt: Oh, the tour buses, like the Big Bus and stuff like that.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. But certainly, you know, there’s a lot of that also in the States and in Canada. So, yeah. We’ve said it many times, people prefer narratives. They like stories compared to just blasting them with some sort of info. We’ve seen, I’m sure there are studies out there, I’ve read some stats that prove that, you know, when you’re trying to educate people, a narrative and storytelling is better.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And then we kind of extend that out to smart educational playgrounds. We got lots of public playgrounds out there in the urban space. Why not integrate digital signage into that? Giving interactive learning experiences that are geared for children, or certain age ranges at least, right? You could have games that encourage promoting learning through play, or that teach, hey, this is how you share things together, or enhance cognitive skills or all sorts of things.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I mean, a lot of, you know, people talk a lot about screentime for kids, and they don’t like it, but they don’t seem to have a problem with it when it’s educating them, you know, so…. And the fact is, your kids are gonna be interacting with screens a lot, so, if you’ve got a playground, or maybe it’s not even a playground, maybe it’s just, you know, more and more, especially K-12 in the upper grades, you’ve got sort of hangout zones and lounges and things like that. They’re becoming more like college campuses. So, put some educational signage around so that that time isn’t just spent, you know, on Instagram.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Exactly. Again, you got kind of a captive audience. Plus, hey, maybe have some content on there for the parents who are, you know, I know they’re supposed to be watching their kids, but they’re not gonna, they’re not staring at ’em every single second. Give ’em something to do. Give ’em something to learn. Maybe give ’em some ideas. Hey, did you know the zoo’s having half price off this weekend? Oh, my kids would love that!

Debbie DeWitt: Well, we’re talking about playgrounds, but it doesn’t have to be a playground. I mean, any kind of job training, you know? Doing, again, narratives on screen and interactive learning is always a good idea.

Derek DeWitt: Sure. Now, ChatGPT came up with an idea, I don’t know that this is actually being done, but it kind of takes this and adultifies it, which is to create digital meditation zones at various places around the urban environment.

Debbie DeWitt: OM!

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, right! So like, you know, calming visuals, ambient sounds, maybe even, limited time, short-form guided meditation sessions, just to kind of give people a respite from the hurley-burley of the life in the big city.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And this is, I think, another play on the yoga and relaxation zones we’ve talked about. I think I’d love to see it in the urban setting, or I’d love to see it…

Derek DeWitt: Like, I would use it.

Debbie DeWitt: …or suburban. I mean, every single shopping mall should have one of these. I think it’s already being done, not necessarily with the signage and the sounds and the smells; I think that’s the sort of blue sky thing is let’s make it a really immersive experience. But, you know, bring it into companies, schools, hospitals, places where people are stressed out.

Derek DeWitt: Another way to kind of tie in the community using these technologies is community message boards. I don’t know. I grew up in, you know, Northern California, pretty new communities. We didn’t really have like community greens or community squares or community areas. I mean, I’m sure we had, you know, the Elks Club and things like that. But like here in Europe and I think on the East Coast and some of the older parts of the US and Canada, you did at least once have these sort of on the main square or on the village green bulletin boards where people put up notices. Hey, I lost my keys. Hey, this thing is happening, and so on. So, we can kind of digify this, you know, where it’s not just top down stuff. Residents and locals can share their news or their events or their announcements. So, it can really be this kind of public place where everybody comes together, and it’s just assisted by the digital medium.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. In the Midwest where I’m from, you still have, the smaller towns have these grand, beautiful town halls right in the center of town, and they have a bulletin board out there. Usually, it’s like a glass case that’s locked up. You know, you have to be able to walk in there, hand it to someone, ask them to post it. An easier way to do this is to put a screen out there and have a social media feed on it. So that way you could actually have your social media moderator, you know, that way your community posts, they can approve it or not. And then it goes on the screen out there.

Derek DeWitt: Another thing you can do to kind of bring the community together is create sort of dynamic polling stations. We’re not talking about voting.

Debbie DeWitt: Nope! Don’t talk about voting!

Derek DeWitt: We’re not talking about voting. We’re talking about, like, actually polls and surveys. Community opinions on local issues and events or city planning. Hey, what do we think about, you know, that empty lot? What should we do with it? Should we turn it into a park? Should we turn it into another shopping center? Like, what do the people who live in the area want to do with it? And again, this is all facilitated through online portals. And so, I mean, people can literally just use their phones and access this stuff and boom, and now my opinion has been added to the collective bucket.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I think, certainly if you have an interactive kiosk that would be great ’cause you could just ask people some questions right there they can answer. But if not, I mean, honestly, this isn’t that blue sky. You can do this right now. I mean, on that community message board, you can say, please give us your opinion. Put a QR code that goes off to a survey. And you know, as always, you wanna make it, you know, three, five questions, very easy. But you could do this right now.

Derek DeWitt: Which kind of reminds me of, there’s a thing that happens in cities all over the world called Restaurant Week, which is not just restaurants all sort of getting together and saying, hey, we’re all gonna feature particular ingredients, or we’re gonna have special, you know, two-for-one deals or special menus and so on. But also, a lot of times Restaurant Week involves people in the community who aren’t restaurant owners making something and selling it, in front of their homes, sometimes in their homes. Or sometimes a bunch of people will gather in a park or something like that and share their, hey, this is my grandma’s recipe. And they’ll share their recipes as well. And so why not actual community recipe boards that are digital signage?

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I mean, this makes a lot of sense, especially now that we’re seeing a lot more food truck courts and sort of pop up, you know, areas where it’s, you know, it’s not permanent brick-and-mortar, this restaurant every time. This is, you know, there are a lot of spaces now where there are eight rotating restaurants on any given day. And it’d be a really great promotional tool to have that (not your signature dish, of course, ’cause you don’t wanna lose that revenue, but) to throw something out there, it really can make the customers more loyal to you. It can make ’em connect with your brand. So, I love this idea.

Derek DeWitt: And, you know, I love food, so….

Debbie DeWitt: Me, too.

Derek DeWitt: Speaking of eating out, something we both love to do, you know, a lot of places do have dynamic themed nights. Obviously, digital signage can be used to promote this sort of thing, right?

Debbie DeWitt: Oh, yeah. I mean, this is being done.

Derek DeWitt: Like, I’m talking like Taco Tuesday, that kind of thing.

Debbie DeWitt: Oh, yeah, yeah. Anybody who’s using digital signs now for restaurants or food courts and all that, they’re definitely doing this. I mean, there’s a brilliant Irish pub across the street from us. They use digital signs to make sure you know about Spin the Wheel Wednesdays where you get a prize if you order a certain beer.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. Right. Exactly. Now, some ideas in the eating out space that I either came across or ChatGPT suggested, here’s one. Interactive menu tables.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And this is basically equipping your tables with interactive digital displays. So your tabletop is a touchscreen. So your customers can browse the menu, customize their order, and maybe even play games while they’re waiting for the food. They can pay for it. Everything. It’s sort of taking that whole QR menu experience a step further and making your table a screen.

Derek DeWitt: Okay: augmented reality menu exploration.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. If you have that menu on your tabletop, or even if you do have a QR code, what you could do is launch an AR app that actually has, you know, an overlay with additional information, you could have 3D images or videos, you know, you could show the cooks making it, you could show that recipe we talked about. So basically, it’s just another way to go deeper with the visitor experience.

Derek DeWitt: Sure, sure. Which leads into having a live kitchen cam, which at first you kind of go really? But actually, I know some places do this, at least on the web, they have webcams for the kitchen.

Debbie DeWitt: Oh, yeah. And I mean, there are a lot of chef’s tables and there are a lot of open kitchens. Open kitchens have been the thing for decades now. We like that behind the scenes. We like to see what they’re doing, how they’re making our food. And again, it’s all about customer experience and just making it a little more immersive.

Derek DeWitt: Sure. Now a lot of restaurants are really focusing on farm-to-table type stuff. What about smart farm-to-table displays? What would those be like?

Debbie DeWitt: I’m not sure about that phrase. I really think this is just another layer of information for the same thing we’ve been talking about. You know, you could talk about where you’re sourcing your ingredients, you know, what the farming practices are, the origins of your coffee, you know, whether it’s fair trade. And I think this goes back to sustainability. We talked about energy and sustainability before. But this is about, you know, helping consumers make informed choices. So, I don’t see this as a separate display, I see it as another layer that you could put on that sort of tabletop display or menu display.

Derek DeWitt: Sure. And I also kind of like the idea that it gives you, like, if you’re interested in this, it gives you the option to learn it. So, for example, the reason I bring this up is there’s a restaurant we went to, gosh, a couple of years ago now, that they’re very proud of where they source their pork. And honestly, two pages of that menu are devoted to the story of this pork. And you’re like…

Debbie DeWitt: Too much.

Derek DeWitt: Well, A, it’s too much, and B, it’s also, it’s kind of not the right place for that. Because when I sit down, I’m thinking about what I want to eat. Maybe I’ll look at that later. Except that after I’ve ordered, you’ve taken the menus away. Whereas here, it’s kind of a leave-behind almost. It’s like, and now here’s some more information for you if you care to know it.

Debbie DeWitt: You’re letting the person search when and how they want, you know? So, yeah. I’m with you. Sometimes, I think it’s very good to know where our food comes from, but at the same time, I don’t necessarily wanna read all about the pigs that I’m about to eat.

Derek DeWitt: That’s true. Or the carrots.

Debbie DeWitt: Right, right. Carrots have feelings, too.

Derek DeWitt: This is Ed. He’s a carrot.

Yeah. When we’re talking about sourcing and all that, I mean, sometimes it’s just curiosity. Sometimes it’s like, no, I have allergies, or I want certain things. My doctors told me I need more vitamin K or whatever. So having the ability to sort of personalize nutritional information and recommendations would be kind of great.

Debbie DeWitt: Oh yeah. I mean, if you’re using that interactive tabletop, people could actually, you know, sort by everything gluten-free, everything plant-based. You could actually just start with, do a very quick survey. Are you allergic to anything and put, you know, the six most common things or an “other”, and it could then come back and only show you things that you can eat. Which would be nice, instead of you having to weed out, weed through. Instead, everything it showed you is for you.

If you are gonna do that, that information has to be updated. It has to be realtime. You know, you do not, oh, we had to substitute this ingredient today, and we forgot to change our actual menu items. That would have to be, I mean, I would imagine it could run off of your, your restaurant system.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Your inventory and so on.

And then, you know, just kind of talking about a few of the other restauranty ideas, this idea of, hey, realtime ingredient sourcing, especially if you’re say, talking about, hey, when did this orange roughy get to this restaurant? And maybe, in the future, people might even choose some of their menu items based on the carbon footprint of it. You know, things like this.

Or virtual wine pairing, that’s another thing. Some kind of a little algorithm or AI even that doesn’t just go, oh, this is fish, try this wine, but actually you answer some questions, and it learns you a little bit and it goes, okay, I think you might like this. Something like that.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I think all of these ideas are just talking about, you know, leveraging your screens to enhance the overall restaurant experience. You know, you’re gonna wanna improve your menus. Make it as interactive as you can, as personalized as you can. And that’s really where all digital communications are going. We’ve talked about that before, too. I think what you do with it is gonna depend on your brand, the style of your restaurant and whatever your goals are. And, obviously, you know your audience or your customer base.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And the last four items that I have here are about traveling. So, when you’re out there in the world on holiday or traveling for business or whatever, digital signage can still be your friend. So, for example, navigation that is powered by AI. Ooh, hoo! Buzzword rich!

Debbie DeWitt: Right, right. Which is funny ’cause I’m kind of like what we’re talking about is AI-powered wayfinding. So, it’s wayfinding. You know, you can do this now. If you wanted to put a screen in a public space to whatever the local landmarks are. You could actually have people now, just like you do in a shopping mall, I need a restroom, I need an ATM, I need to get to the museum. But AI-powered would be nice because maybe you could walk up and say, I’m interested in architecture, you know, and it would go, oh, these are three very interesting sites nearby. Would you like to learn about them?

Derek DeWitt: If you’re in Chicago, take the architectural boat tour, ’cause it’s architecture-rich.

Debbie DeWitt: Yes. Always. Absolutely. But also, you know, with AI-powered, you could incorporate just like you use Waze or Google now to see, you know, is, if you’re driving, I don’t think you’re gonna use this. But even if you’re walking that street could be under construction, sidewalks to get closed off. It’s extremely busy. You’re in Manhattan, you know? Like, this time of day on this street is not the way to go, go this other way.

And maybe you could even tell it, like, but we do need lunch somewhere in the next hour or two. So, it could actually map out, well, what do you want? I want Italian and I want to go to these three places. Great. I’d suggest you walk this way, see this, have lunch, go to the next two.

Derek DeWitt: Almost like a little personalized walking tour that you could take with you on your phone or something like that. That would be quite cool. I like this idea of personalization. We talk about this all the time, and I think we’re gonna see more and more of this. What about personalizing travel itineraries?

Kind of like what you said with that, but say, bigger. Like, hey, my wife wants beach and I want, you know, good pubs, and the kids, we need a playground. I can find this information online. It’s gonna take me hours and hours. It could also be when you’re traveling, event recommendations for the area. Like if you’re in Boston, what art exhibitions are going on? Or hey, what bands are playing? Or you know, wherever, wherever you happen to be. Is there a farmer’s market, is there a food festival, is there a film festival?

Debbie DeWitt: You know, again, maybe you can answer a few questions. I’m always hoping for AI, you know. So, I’m hoping that it asks you a few questions and then it tells you, hey, you might be interested in these things. It could also tell you like, attendance. You know, this many tickets are sold. It’s always nice. Instead of just seeing, oh….

Derek DeWitt: Right. Is it gonna be me and five other people, or is this gonna be a thing?

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. ‘Cause I’m in a city I don’t know. So, you tell me there are 20 tickets left, and I think, oh wow, it’s almost sold out. Well, no, it holds 30 people. You know, so.

Derek DeWitt: Right!

Debbie DeWitt: You know, maybe you could…

Derek DeWitt: It’s a cafe.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. You could look at those kind of things. You know, I think event recommendations on a screen definitely make sense at what we talked about before, either a community center, even things like airports, bus stops, train stations. You know, anywhere that travelers are gathering, basically.

Derek DeWitt: Sure. I mean, another idea here is live streaming events in public spaces.

Debbie DeWitt: I think they already do. Absolutely. You’re gonna have, you know, we’ve done this here. We’ve gone to places that show the World Cup games. Eurovision, very popular here.

Derek DeWitt: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Debbie DeWitt: So, you wanna get….

Derek DeWitt: The Oscars.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, yeah. Any large thing like that, except the Oscars probably wouldn’t let you, ’cause you know, they…

Derek DeWitt: Dick Clark Productions.

Debbie DeWitt: Yes. They want you to pay for it.

But I think that it makes sense. And I think, again, this would be more in the urban planning environment, if you’re talking about putting these in.

Now, we actually saw something at ISE this year that was a football game, it was a giant video wall with a football game, and it had an overlay that had realtime… It wasn’t, you know, the John Madden marking things up, it was like, as soon as a player was announced, they showed you his stats, they showed you success rates for the plays that they were doing.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah.

Debbie DeWitt: I mean, it was a lot of stats, but it also was done really beautifully that it was off on the side. It did not interfere if you just wanted to watch the game.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Or, you know, hey, here’s how this person performed in the past couple of games. Kinda like what you, if you go to the horse races, this is how this horse has performed in the last three races. You know, it’s supposed to give you information to help you make your decision on who to, who to bet on.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I mean, there you go. Use it for the Kentucky Derby.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. Right, right.

And then the last thing was personalized travel itineraries, which I don’t, I mean, maybe at transportation hubs, like at the Greyhound station or at the main train station, something like that, maybe. Though this to me feels like something that would be more like a website that I can access either at home or on my phone.

Debbie DeWitt: I think so, too. If you’re looking for a full travel itinerary. I mean sure at an airport or a train station, you might have a hotels kiosk, which is basically like a on an interactive screen where you can say, I have this much money and it’s these nights and it only gives you local things. But yeah, I’m with you. I don’t know a whole lot of people that would, you know, get on a plane, go somewhere and then decide.

Derek DeWitt: Right! And they go, well, I need something to do!

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. Yeah. The events thing, it’s basically like a Go… I love the events idea, ’cause it’s basically like GoOut on the screen.

Derek DeWitt: Right.

Debbie DeWitt: You know, the magazine that, that sometimes is free in an area and it’s a lot to slog through versus being able to filter.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, yeah. For sure, for sure.

So, that is a bagful, sackful of blue sky digital signage ideas, some of which are already happening, a few of which certainly are coming in the near future, and a few of which are maybe just like, hmm, food for thought for digital signage managers and people buying digital signage systems for various environments. I guess the idea here really is it’s such a powerful communications tool that honestly, the blue sky is the limit, if I may be cute.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I mean, we’re talking about what goes on screens. It’s pretty simple. Whatever you can think of you can put on screens. A lot of these ideas now, I’ve mentioned several times that things similar to what we’re talking about are being done. It’s really about different levels. If you have a static screen, what can you do with it? If you have an interactive screen, what can you do with it?

It’s always gonna be about your goals. It’s always gonna be about your audience. But even though these might sound somewhat ambitious, I think you can find a way to do these even now. And I think it’s more about as the technology grows, as AI becomes more of a thing, as you get more creative resources (if you don’t have any), it’s really just about getting good content on screens.

Derek DeWitt: I agree. Well, super interesting! Thanks for talking to me, Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix, for talking to me today about blue sky ideas for digital signage. Thanks, Deb. Super stimulating.

Debbie DeWitt: I love future forecasting.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, me too.

And of course, I’d like to thank everybody out there for listening. I tell you again, ’cause there’s a lot of stuff in here, it might be helpful to follow along with the transcript on the Visix website, which is under resources and podcasts.