Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shipments boom for touch screens in professional and signage markets

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Shipments of touch screen displays for the signage and professional market are set to surge by more than a factor of seven over the next three years to reach nearly 3 million units in 2013, as users in the public space, hospitality, health care, government, corporate retail, transportation and education segments gain interest in the technology, new IHS iSuppli research indicates.

Global shipments of touch screen displays for signage and professional applications are expected to reach 2.97 million units in 2013, up from 404,999 in 2010, as presented in the attached figure. The market will expand at a CAGR of 96.3 percent between the years of 2009 and 2013.

“Touch screen displays in the professional and signage segments are large displays that are used in various non-consumer, out-of-home applications, ranging from interactive whiteboards in classrooms to point-of-sale terminals in retail outlets, to information kiosks in tourist attractions,” said Sanju Khatri, director of signage and public information displays at IHS.

“Although the market for very large touch screens in the signage and professional display market holds great promise, it remains a nascent, undeveloped sector. The market presently suffers from the chicken-or-egg syndrome: Both suppliers and potential users believe these displays are going to become much more common during the next few years—but both camps are waiting for the other side to make the first move.”

In general, IHS is seeing increased interest from suppliers but not a great deal of commitment from the industry. However, as the market becomes better established in the next few years, competition will ratchet up, driving down prices and increasing the proliferation of such displays.

The largest growth areas for this segment will be in public spaces, hospitality and health care, which will account for 41.8 percent of overall touch screen signage unit shipments by 2013. Within this segment, touch-equipped displays are used to help guests and visitors navigate facilities, as well as provide a more effective method of distributing information such as meeting schedules, locations, local attractions, and events and maps to facilities. These displays also are used for real-time weather, airport information and to showcase services or amenities of the locations.

The second largest growth area will be in the government and corporate sectors, which will represent 31.2 percent of the total units shipped in 2013. These displays can provide a new way to facilitate meetings by providing a higher level of interactivity to those participating. Touch-enabled signage can also be used to more personally deliver company information and provide access to its employees.

The retail segment will be the third largest area for growth with 20.7 percent of overall signage unit shipments.

“The main goal of retail stores adopting digital signage is to capture end-user attention and provide relevant and targeted information, which in turn results in higher sales, increased brand perception and greater customer satisfaction,” said Dragana Boras, researcher for digital signage and public displays at IHS. “Touch screens bring a whole new level of personalization to the shopping experience by providing feedback to the retail store operator on what information is most relevant and what content customers find most compelling.

Two additional segments, transportation and education, will account for the remainder of the market in digital signage.”

Competitive technologies
While there are more than a dozen commercialized and emerging touch screen technologies, not all of them are applicable to, or designed for, the signage and professional market—defined as non-consumer displays 32-inches and larger. The most applicable touch technologies for signage include optical imaging, resistive, projected capacitive, bending wave, infrared (IR) and surface acoustic wave (SAW).

Under the skin
One example of large touch screen signage and professional displays making its way into everyday life will come during this week’s 2011 Society for Information Displays (SID) conference. UMA Information Technologies GmbH is unveiling its Skin multitouch environment with person tracking and semantic content streams.

UMA’s technology is targeted at both corporate use—having already been installed in a Siemens facility in Vienna, Austria—and retail signage where customers can utilize the multitouch screen interface to receive personalized content on interactive walls. Vendors can use the technology to run ads, offer alternate payment models, connect to iPads or other wireless devices and give their customers a more interactive shopping experience.

UMA’s technology is based on optical imaging technology that uses cameras to detect touch, gestures, or other body movement to determine the touch point. A typical implementation of optical touch involves placing two optical sensors at two corners of the screen, and a uniform field of infrared light is distributed across the screen by illuminated or reflected borders on the opposing three sides. When touching the screen, an object blocks the light seen by the cameras. A controller then analyzes the resulting imaging information and calculates the touch

location via triangulation
In a briefing, UMA CEO, Christian Doegl, confirmed that 3-D cameras are used to detect people coming to the screens, preloading content via software before a person even arrives. Then, using radio frequency identification (RFID), the Skin wall can personalize the experience based on the interests of the customer or retailer.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

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