The Consumer Electronics Show Came, Saw and Conquered Vegas

The annual trade show touched down at the Las Vegas Convention Center with more attendees than hotel rooms. It was a hot bed of the latest tech and gadgets that companies were keen to demonstrate to the world.

Rapport’s Craig Barber takes a look at the potential technologies that might see their way into the Outdoor market over the coming years.

Free Form Displays 

Free Form Displays were one of the more exciting pieces of technology to be shown at CES. Its use is that it allows for high quality screens to be cut into virtually any shape. Sharp were keen to show its application in bespoke dashboard designs for car manufactures, while rumours circulated that Nintendo will be using FFD in their next games console.

It leads to some very interesting uses for OOH. Whilst we won’t see this technology on large digital roadside sites, we might see this tech arriving in more unique ways. For example brand logos can be cut into shape and placed on long term holding sites. Colour could then change to reflect the mood or the creative execution it sits on. Beer taps could have screens shaped onto them, offering interesting tie ups with that particular brand. Imagine a Carling beer tap that also provides the latest football results? Or maybe a simple design where ticket gate barriers at Rail and Underground stations finally house digital screens. No longer would their unique shape be problematic. The potential is huge in this respect as creative can change based on if it’s open or closed. Whilst it’s a technology a few years off, we expect OOH to find interesting ways to make the most of this unique screen display.

4k Screens

The Maturing 4k Screen Marketplace continues at an unrelenting pace. Panasonic only showcased the 4k models of their television sets, whilst Samsung & LG fought off about whose company had the most vibrant picture. However, many commentators would argue that 4k is one of the biggest scams to be seen in the current home entertainment sector. In essence, the true glory of 4k is only noticeable if the TV size starts hitting the 70 inch mark (unless you sit less than 6 feet away from your TV set). And let’s be frank, no matter how cheap they might become, who has the space for a 70+ inch TV? More on the debate can be found in this CNET article.

However, this fact actually lends itself nicely to OOH as consumers can be situated very closely to Digital OOH sites (the inside panels of a bus shelter would be a good place for 4K as an example). In the next couple of years, as prices drop, we might start seeing new digital OOH screens updated to 4k spec. I’d be surprised if Cross Rail locations missed out on the opportunity to future proof itself with this tech. The premium nature of digital OOH continues to be a major trait of the sector so 4k display would be a welcome addition to the industry.

Wearable Technology

Wearable Tech seems to have broken into the mainstream with many fitness bands now readily available at your local electronic shop. However, it is fair to say that wearable tech still lacks that “cool” factor, with many devices feeling bulky or uncomfortable to wear. However, CES demonstrated how the form factor is reducing and now almost invisible. Many products showed microchips that can sit inside a shoe to measure your steps and sync to an app. This is where the technology needs to head to truly become mainstream. With the news that Google Glass has been taken off the shelves recently, with many complaining it lacked the “cool” factor, making wearable technology less intrusive is key. It’s at this point that OOH will integrate with these technologies, in particular Digital OOH. The potential to run personalised messaging with Digital OOH screens recognising these Bluetooth devices is huge.

There didn’t appear to be anything revolutionary about CES this time round – rather instead a maturity of existing technologies. Smart devices are smarter, the Internet of Things is becoming a reality and wearable technology is now common place. It’s refreshing to see these technologies nurtured as it provides a great opportunity for OOH to integrate and provide richer and more rewarding experiences. 

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