One of the most popular uses of digital signage at the moment is in its applications to wayfinding. Wayfinding is defined as the use of signs, maps and other graphic or audible method to help travelers find their way between locations. It’s a tremendously important application for any place that experiences a lot of visitors: hospitals, hotels, casinos, universities and so on.
As people are becoming more accustomed to interactive digital wayfaring technology, its use is becoming more and more popular and the applications are constantly evolving and improving. Here’s a look at some of the top trends for 2012 and beyond:
1. Integration between digital signage and smartphones is coming ever closer, and this will allow users to get directions directly to their phone or tablet then forward the information on to someone else through instant messaging, text or other methods. It will no longer be necessary to remember or write down the information.
2. For wayfaring in walkable situations (for example hospitals or college campuses) we’re beginning to see more step-by-step directions to a location rather than just a “you are here” line depiction.
3. As computer graphics imagery improves, so does the sophistication of sign images. More 3D images of building layouts as well as more accurate representations of floor plans are popping up, and especially interactive plans that you can zoom and pan around.
4. Interactive touch signage can include far more detail about the locations being mapped. Get directions to the hotel restaurant, then take a look at today’s specials. Or in hospitals, get directions to the specific department along with information on the department head, contact information and working hours.
5. The addition of that cool two-finger zoom, made popular on the iPhone and iPad interface, allows users to zoom in or out for easier location setting. This is just one example of companies beginning to integrate gestures to make the whole experience more rewarding and yet intuitive.
6. Some industries are finding ways to include promotional content with the basic wayfinding screen. For example, if you use the map to find a hotel, perhaps you’ll be given a coupon code to a nearby restaurant.
7. Some newer systems are starting to experiment with sending text messages to the user’s mobile phone. For example, when engaging with the interactive screen, you may be required to login, at which time special offers based on your profile would be made available. Casinos, for example, are rewarding player loyalty in this way by integrating it into the wayfaring system of the resorts high-traffic areas.
The system can search for offers that might be more focused on that user’s profile, which can increase the odds of it being used. Digital signage is getting to be the expected norm for visitors at public places, and it’s easy to see the potential for added value to the user. Locations need to figure what their goals are with their visitors, and find ways to use the new capabilities to create a unique visitor experience.