Digital signage is quickly growing in popularity. According to InfoComm International, direct digital signage is growing 40 percent a year and will reach 1 million displays installed by 2009.
For today's information-crazed society, digital signage is both an easily updated communications medium and a branding bonanza. It's even a revenue generator, turning parts of buildings into electronic billboards.
But this technology is not being used to its full potential. When viewed as an architectural element, it can enhance, highlight, even define the aesthetic vocabulary of a space. While examples abound that show the informative nature of digital signage, less prevalent are installations in which it becomes one with the architecture.
The lobby of NASDAQ at Times Square in New York (see Ringing in the Market) is a beautiful example of technology and architecture working together to enhance both. Technology packs a powerful punch to showcase the nature of the organization it represents. Visitors are treated to a welcoming yet informative space with first-class finishes and design.
The space works because the use of the technology was programmed into the project from the start. Such upfront planning is key to using digital technology successfully, said a range of designers who convened at a Barco event this spring. Even the most pristine equipment delivering pure, crisp images cannot rescue a program that fails to plan.
Technology gets old fast, and the content displayed gets old faster. The life spans for both are much shorter than that of the building. Even the most artistic digital installation will not carry the same aesthetic benefits 2, 5, 10 years down the road and beyond if not updated.
On the other hand, a good design can use digital signage to give buildings a timeless relevance. Digital signage gives buildings a voice they've never had before. The proper coalescence of technology and architecture can provide possibilities that bricks and mortar could not achieve on their own.