Power Couple: Touch-First Content and Real Time Data
Real time data. You're starting to hear about it more and more often from established digital signage providers, the ability to show up-to-the-minute information in a digital-out-of-home (DOOH) medium. The surprise isn't that real time data is valuable, it's that it took the industry so long to embrace it.
Allow me to pat our own back for a moment.
Back in May of 2013, IntuiLab introduced a new feature for IntuiFace, the "interface asset", or IA. This special asset type enabled IntuiFace-based experiences to communicate with any data store, business logic or device exposing an API. Thanks to this "interface to the cloud", touch-first experiences built using IntuiFace could dynamically present and collect data from any external resource. For free! It's all documented online. Example uses include:
- retail-centric experiences could show up-to-the-minute product availability and price information
- self-service kioks could collect and store context-sensitive information to enable a future follow-up.
- sales pitches could show every catalog and service update on the fly
- art exhibits could rotate through a variety of ever-changing digital installations
The marriage of touch-first content with real-time data is the holy grail for the digital signage community. Not only does that marriage ensure a fully personalized and unique experience for each user but it provides a wealth of actionable usage statistics to the vendor. Behind the scenes, companies know exactly what users selected - and didn't select. They can follow the paths taken and the time spent. Each audience member is presented with personally meaningful content while vendors are presented with meaningful insight.
As you can imagine, it's one thing to say "real time data", it's another to do it in a way that maximizes effectiveness. This is particularly true in an interactive environment. So what are the key elements of a real time data mechanism used in digital signage?
- Interactive: The widgets presenting real time data need to be interactive as well! For example, in IntuiFace, we've prebuilt many interface assets for our users and coupled them with interactive views ready for use. Change the city and browser the forecast for ourWeather interface asset. Swipe back in time with our Twitter and Instagram interface assets.
- Customizable: Deployments should reflect the style of the brand and embrace a consistent theme. Don't just think about presenting data but how to present that data. For example, for weather forecast, use text or an icon? If an icon, what icon? If text, what font? This considerations must be made and need to be easily configured. Plus by connecting to a back office system, you can ensure that the data presented is always up-to-the-minute and relevant.
- Contextual: Interactive experiences that react to the user are much more engaging. Identify important user decisions - called "triggers" in IntuiFace - and create meanginful responses to them - aka "actions" in IntuiFace. The goal is to immerse the user in an experience responsive and relevant. And do it with style! For example, instead of having visitors type in a city, have them just touch a map and then present the weather for that location. All of this is easily doable with IntuiFace
- DIY: APIs change, New options become available. The real time data mechanism needs to enable rapid adaptation for existing elements, rapid creation for new ones. IntuiLab has published everything you need to know about its interface asset mechanism. We used it to build support for everything from Google's geolocation service to the Philips hue lightbulb, the classic example of a connected object amongst the Internet of Things.
We're thrilled the industry spotlight has started to shine on real time data. We can tell you from experience that it's core to the inevitable evolution of the DOOH community to a user-centric signage approach.