NAB Show Q&A: Schaeffler Talks Digital Signage and HD

Jimmy Schaeffler, chairman of The Carmel Group of Carmel, Calif., will moderate a Super Session at the 2008 NAB Show on “Digital Signage and Broadcasters: A New Business Model” at 10:30 a.m. April 16 (S222/223 in the LVCC). He spoke with HD Notebook this week about the possible links between HD and digital signage platforms:

HD Notebook: First of all, does HD have a role to play when it comes to digital signage?

Schaeffler: Any piece of hardware that vastly improves the display for a relatively valuable price point is going to work in today’s media. This holds true whether it’s a PDA or a huge stadium monitor. So, yes, undoubtedly, HD-quality monitors will have a certain place in digital signage.

HD Notebook: It seems like a lot of digital signage that’s emerging is technically somewhere between 720p and 480p. Not quite HD, to be sure, but perhaps “high-resolution” for video signage. How do you see the image (and perhaps sound) quality evolving in the next few years?

Schaeffler: I’d make the same point as in my first answer, and add that if hardware providers can keep the prices in a reasonable range, a solid percentage of digital signage network operators and related stakeholders will opt for the best devices—from servers to monitors—even if that costs a few more dollars.

HD Notebook: So you think what ever extra costs may be involved in HD-quality digital signage, it’s worth it?

Schaeffler: I hate to duck the question, but as my [recent] book notes, it really is a case-by-case decision, ideally implemented only after plenty of top-grade homework and due diligence has been implemented. This is so critical in almost every deployment, because the downside of doing it wrong—especially in terms of an audience’s negative view of digital signage—can harm the entire industry for years, if not decades or longer. Digital signage is an industry that has huge potential, but only if the vast majority of deployments are done well, with the specific idea of delivering relevant and helpful content to every audience. Not to sound too trite, but “relevance is relevant” as it relates to audiences and the true future of digital signage.