Interactive signage makes advertising more engaging. It invites customers to drive their own experience with a store’s products and brand. However, retailers will find they can get more value and impact from interactive signage if they start with the right platform and content management system (CMS).
A good example of such a platform is the versatile Advantech* 21.5” Retail Touch Computer UTC-620E (Figure 1). This all-in-one design features a 21.5” full-HD display and a built-in computer powered by a 4th generation Intel® Core™ i5-4300U processor. The processor delivers fast response to every touch, using the built-in Intel® HD Graphics 4400 and Intel® HD Audio for outstanding media playback.
Figure 1. Advantech 21.5” Retail Touch Computer UTC-620E.
Intel HD Graphics 4400 is particularly valuable. It eliminates the need and expense of a power-hungry discrete graphics card. The graphics processing unit (GPU) supports DirectX 11.1 and OpenGL 4.0 for 2D and 3D multimedia rendering, plus includes Intel® Clear Video HD Technology for playback of HD and 4K video. This technology provides a suite of image decode and processing technologies to deliver cleaner, sharper images, more natural, accurate, and vivid colors and skin tones, and a clear and stable video picture.
For interactivity, the UTC-620E features a true-flat, projective capacitive touchscreen that enables multi-touch solutions that allow more than one person to interact with sign content at a time. This can be a great feature for split screen applications. A built-in WiFi antenna enables wireless setup and operation. A noise-free fanless chassis ensures quiet operation wherever the sign is placed in the store.
Expanding the Possibilities with CMS
A platform like the UTC-620E becomes more powerful and effective when used with a comprehensive CMS like Intel® Retail Client Manager (Intel® RCM). This software provides an intuitive, easy-to-use platform for creating content from any combination of HD video, web content, images, flash, HTML5 animation, and audio. It can also tap the UTC-620E’s built-in 5-megapixel camera to enable gesture-based interactive solutions that make signs even more engaging for customers.
Intel RCM can also use the UTC-620E’s camera to enable retailers to deliver content to every screen when and where it matters most. The software uses anonymous video analytics (AVA) to recognize the
gender and age bracket of the person at each sign, serve up appropriate content, and monitor dwell time – how long a customer views and interacts with the advertising. These metrics enable retailers to provide advertisers with proof of play and to monitor advertising effectiveness to continuously improve their results (Figure 2).
Figure 2. This example of the metrics reported by Intel® Retail Client Manager (Intel® RCM) shows two campaigns that need refreshing as they lose effectiveness over time.
To monitor the network in general, a remote control feature in Intel RCM gives retailers the power to access any networked digital sign and the content on that sign. For example, if a retail staff member is at lunch and wants to verify what content is running on a specific sign at a store 100 miles away, the staff member can access a web-based interface accessible from any web browser to see the status of any sign and watch in real time what is playing on up to six signs at once (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Remote management capabilities enable Intel® Retail Client Manager (Intel® RCM) 2.0 users to view content on up to six signs simultaneously from a tablet or laptop.
Even More Tools of Interaction
The UTC-620E includes other technologies that make it a strong platform for interactive signage. These include a magnetic strip reader (MSR), RFID reader, 2D barcode scanner, and near field communications (NFC). The unit also provides five programmable soft-keys for use in order-entry applications, airline or hotel check-in, guided selling, and more.
Retailers who use the UTC-620E to implement the “endless aisle” – online shopping in physical stores – will find these tools make it the perfect entry into this lucrative way to combine online and on-premises shopping. The UTC-620E’s interactive touchscreen enables shoppers to rapidly explore in-store inventory and items not on the shelf, as well as check product ratings from other store customers and view alternative choices. Customers can then purchase items for home delivery using the touchscreen interface, MSR, or a smart phone equipped with NFC.
Smart phones and tablets with NFC can also directly download coupons for exclusive in-store deals, loyalty rewards, and other promotions. Retailers can connect a printer for coupons and other “print as needed” information. They can also use the UTC-620E’s interactive tools to allow customers to sign up for newsletters, special offers and loyalty programs.
Cost-saving Remote Interactivity for Managing Signs
More valuable than an interactive sign is a manageable interactive sign. This is another area in which Intel Core processor-based systems shine. With their Intel® vPro™ technology activated, these systems can tap a remote control feature in Intel RCM that employs the processor-based Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) for out-of-band management. Using Intel RCM’s integrated manageability console, operators can control Intel AMT and non-Intel AMT devices from a single interface.
Intel RCM and Intel AMT make a powerful combination. They enable remote diagnosis, repair, and maintenance of digital signage players. Compared to on-premises service calls that can run hundreds of dollars for each truck roll, these remote management capabilities can save retailers significant time and money.
Maximize Interactive Effectiveness with the Right Platform
The right platform can make all the difference in interactive signage. Retailers will get more value and impact if they choose a platform like the Advantech UTC-620E and run Intel RCM on it. To view more interactive signage solutions based on Intel Core processors, see the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance’s Solutions Directory.
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Advantech is a Premier member of the Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance.
Roving Reporter (Intel Contractor), Intel® Internet of Things Solutions Alliance
Associate Editor, Embedded Innovator magazine