Channel pros with a handle on the essentials of the digital signage marketplace—and a flair for interior design—can find increasing business opportunities in the field of “techorating.”
According to Alan C. Brawn, principal of Vista, Calif.-based Brawn Consulting LLC, an AV and digital signage consultancy, techorating is a term that refers to the incorporation of technology into the overall decorative theme of a space. At its most basic, “It is the use of technologies as part of the design of an environment, beyond what the technologies actually do,” Brawn says.
Flat-panel display, projection, audio, and interactive technologies have been invading the commercial market for many years, notes Brawn, “and techorating is all about integrating them into a space so that they become not only a method of communicating, but also part of the aesthetics.”
Examples of techorating abound. They include digital displays, set up perhaps as flat-panel video walls in a corporate headquarters to communicate the story of the company to those who enter the space. Techorating is increasingly common in the retail arena, in the form of digital video displays of widely varying shapes and sizes that convey information on everything from how to use a particular product to what’s on the dinner menu.
“Techorating has become much more mainstream as people strive to ‘think outside of the rectangle,’ and differentiate their space from others, or to help create a better, more inviting environment,” says Brawn.
Techorating tracks the digital signage market. And currently, “Corporate communications and retail are among the hottest industry sectors for digital signage,” says Richard Ventura, vice president of business development and solutions at NEC Display Solutions of America, anItasca, Ill.-based global designer/provider of monitors, multimedia and digital cinema projectors, and integrated display solutions.
Growth in the use of interactive digital signage is a major driver in these market sectors. Ventura cites several important technologies in this regard: RFID (radio frequency identification); iBeacon, an Apple standard enabling the delivery of micro-level (i.e., inside a store), location-based information and services to wireless devices; and augmented reality apps, which supplement real-time environments with digital information.
“In addition, direct-view LED with finer pixel pitches and lampless projectors will pave the way for larger and more explosive video walls and canvasses,” Ventura says, adding, “The increased application of 3-D projection mapping will drive exciting installations in [numerous] vertical markets.”
Channel pros looking for a piece of the techorating market need to be well-versed in the fundamentals of digital signage technologies, according to Brawn; he notes that a subsidiary of Brawn Consulting, DSEG (Digital Signage Experts Group), provides industry education and certification for digital signage professionals.
It also helps for your company to have some creative firepower. “Beyond the basic design and integration skills,” says Brawn, “there must be a creative and visionary capability inside the company.”