Friday, August 16, 2013

Digital Signage Need To Know: New technology making things simpler with LED Signage

-Deacon Wardlow
Depending on your age and or location, you may have come across a piece of living history either through personal use or at an antique store or flea market. At the company's peak, Underwood typewriter sales equaled (in quantity) the sum total of all their competitor's typewriters and they were churning out typewriters in Hartford, CT at a rate of one per minute. many of the classic Underwoods (specifically the No 5 model) are still around and work just as well now as they did when they were fresh off the factory floor. Simple elegance.

Technology is complicated, but manufacturers are constantly striving for simplicity. Smartphones have few, if any, buttons and rarely come with instruction manuals as the interfaces are very intuitive. At one time, computers were massive machines for business or science and now a powerful PC can fit in your back pocket (just be careful when you sit down). The driving force behind this systematic simplification is both ease-of-use and to lessen points of failure.

SSD (Solid State Drives) were developed to lower the weight and power consumption in computers, increase efficiency, and decrease failure rates (as "regular" hard drives contain spinning discs which can become damaged corrupting data and possibly outright making a paperweight out of a decent computer). LED and Digital Signage (DS) systems, are constantly moving towards streamlining and simplification taking place as well. Controllers take advantage of SSD technology, photo cells are being replaced with software programming (no more photo cell failure at midnight "blinding" passer-bys). Where are manufacturers going from here?

Temperature probes are dinosaurs. Asphalt and Concrete cause temperature readings to spike during the day and wind/rain can cause actual temperature readings to drop down. Manufacturers are starting to rely on national databases for accurate readings. Even software (the old standby) is going away and being replaced with Mobile Device Apps, cloud-based controls, and more universally accessible "anytime, anywhere" driven control systems. It's interesting how the more our technology is driven forward, the "simpler" and more streamlined it gets.

Keep an eye on the market, you'll see changes for the better with manufacturers who care about influencing the direction of the industry. The dinosaurs will likely fall behind, but that's how technology works. Typewriters are replaced by computers, computers are replaced by tablets and smartphones, old technology makes way for new. Make sure you're working with a manufacturer who's ahead of the game and not falling behind.

*I invite you to comment here and/or email me directly with requests at Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (, please check it out when you have a moment. Note all posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted.


Unknown said...

Excellent Deacon, you remind me an old marketing principle on which you need to manage a paradox, being first or a me too. Both have opportunities and threats. However, most of the time people make the choice of being first an evidence, we don't like to be the second.
The issue comes when you quote this in dollars (specially when they are yours), then most of the ones who declared to be the first make a step back.
Don't you think that it's just a matter of risk analysis and be in the right pace?

Deacon said...

Thanks for the comment Carlos!

A lot of new growth is a "right place & time" situation however many technologies have launched specifically because the developer saw the time & place before anyone else. That's the trick.

The startup world is incredibly tough and brutal, but a great school of life for businesses. Over 90% (possibly even 99%) of startups barely make it through their initial development phase. Many people mistakenly assume startups are bringing these new technologies to the door when in reality most startups are just aggregates of existing technologies or products and software with a very unique application.

Risk analysis is all well and good, but more companies need to push out against the numbers. is there a lot of risk involved in launching a new product (i.e. back when Blockbuster was big, who would have ever thought they could be replaced with a vending machine?). once the new idea/product is launched, the market becomes familiar with the idea and then it's up to the initial developer to continue running and growing.

There was a great cookie company started in 1908 who created a chocolate cookie with a sweet cream filling (Hydrox). They were a leader and innovator in that market. Unfortunately, Oreo came along in 1912 and did such a good job of cornering the market, people thought Hydrox was a cheap knockoff. This is where the real risk occurs with new technology, not in the initial launch but in maintaining the brand and keeping the lead. This is why I firmly believe the simpler something is kept, the more appealing it is to the market and the harder it is to replicate by others...

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