Everyone has a smartphone these days. My kid’s first cell phone was a smartphone. I had to buy her one; otherwise, she would have been out of the main social stream…If you are not in the ‘WhatsApp’ community, you do not really exist. If you can’t read a QR code, you will not have the same coupons as your other friends. Your cell must be smart, even if you are just a kid.
Is this good or bad? I think it’s too early to tell, but it is clear now that people are stuck to their smartphone. It often seems like the handheld Internet connects us all. But this is only partially true. We are so into our smartphones that we miss whatever happens three feet from us. This is exactly what small and medium businesses are looking for – an attraction that draws our attention to our surroundings and connects us to the place we are located in.
Digital Signage is not a new technology, and it is all about looking at messages provided by the business/venue owner. Smartphones are quite new (although it might seem they have been here forever). They are about connecting to others but without any real physical interaction. The combination of the two, however, is a totally new ball game. Using the screen-smart device (SSI) concept, clients and visitors use their personal smartphones to interact with the business/venue/site, while everyone around watches or joins in!
The options are endless:
- A guy in a bar can send a YouTube song to the screen, dedicating it to the girl in the blue dress, sitting in the corner.
- The visitors in a bar can send messages to appear on the bar screen, like a local dynamic social network. Each participant can ask others to ‘step out’ to a private chat.
- The manager of a student cafeteria can set up a poll that asks which dish should be on discount next week. Every participant in the poll gets a coupon straight to his cell phone.
- Any business can send text messages to its clients to click ‘like,’ ‘follow Twitter,’ ’LinkedIn,’ or ‘+1.’ Every time a client does so, the screens pop up with messages, calling the person to the counter to get his coupon or benefit, and, in this way, ‘teasing’ other clients to follow the same – Connecting to a business social network has a clear dollar value.
- Play a multi-user game on a big screen. The winner gets a coupon, and the game is branded with the business owner’s logo and style.
There is no way of knowing where this technology will lead. It has been proven in the past that users have been harnessing the technology to their needs in the most creative and innovative way. But one thing is clear, the smartphone is not the enemy of what we used to call Digital Signage. It is just turning it into another way of communication – machine to machine – but far more important – people to people.