Sign & Digital Graphics

May '17

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64 • May 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ELECTRIC SIGNAGE then the cost is much more expensive than when purchasing software outright. But, if a company is planning to use a service long-term, the cost is less. Every unit has a fixed price on it with a discount based on how many signs are deployed, Dun says. He adds that moving from a tradi- tional sign company to a digital one is not easy because it has nothing to do with what a company has done in the past. The biggest value a traditional sign com- pany has to the digital world is its book of business. "Not every sign will transition to digi- tal because of the nature of the business. There's a need for a regional company to help them transition," says Dun. Wade McKelvey, technical devel- opment manager at E B S C O Signs & Displays in Clanton, Alabama, says that his company just launched its cloud- based software in January. Someone can run the application through a standard web browser or from a telephone app. The cloud is being used to send and receive new sign content, using a stan- dard Internet connection. It also can be used to retrieve information off the Internet, like the current time and tem- perature. "We can see the status of a sign in real time. We can pull information about its up time and different statistics for that particular individual sign and can even remotely fix it. If it is 100 percent soft- ware related, we can remotely fix most of those issues across the Internet, which is pretty cool," McKelvey says. By being 100 percent browser-based, sign dealers and installers don't have to worry about installing software on peo- ple's machines. "We've gotten a lot of positive feed- back on that because it is not something you have to install. You can use it on any operating system," he says. In the past, when a sign used tradi- tionally installed software, the number of users on it would be limited to one and it was difficult to add or remove users. In the cloud, it is easy to add or remove users, which is important from a security aspect. If someone is no longer associ- ated with your organization, you want to remove them from the ability to change your sign as soon as possible. EBSCO offers a content library to all of its sign clients, like individual video clips, animations and illustrations that is continuously updated with new content people can use on their signs. One of the drawbacks of using cloud- based software is that your cloud host has to always be up and running for you to communicate with your sign. It is important to choose a cloud host that has multiple backup systems to ensure a sign's content never goes dark. You also want a cloud provider that is scalable and can grow as your business grows. "As these apps have grown, you have more and more signs coming online; more users trying to access it at the same time," McKelvey says. "If there is no way to scale up, you are going to start choking. You need to build that into your platform; you need to have the ability to scale up as demand increases." One of the biggest short-term issues faced by digital sign providers is the pain of creating content for the sign. "People spend a lot of money on these things and, in many instances, they end up putting plain text messages on the sign. That doesn't showcase the sign's ability or draw attention, which is what these signs are supposed to do," he says. One of the things EBSCO hopes to do is offer the ability for someone, who doesn't have design skills, to type in the message they want to put on the sign and turn it into a cool animation with the press of a button. Another thing the industry will see is more online collaboration and social networks revolving around digital sig- nage. That means the community will come together to help each other out with content or sign problems. Another option for the future is using signs for more personalized advertising, like what you would see on Google. Individual sign owners would be able to opt into adver- tising networks and have a marketplace where people do advertising. It is another way for clients to make money from their signs. SDG (Photo courtesy of DynaSign) 20mm in Nashville, TN through Signarama. (Photo courtesy of EBSCO)

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