Archive for the ‘Sightings’ category

Microsoft reveals multi-touch Surface cousin, called Sphere

July 29, 2008

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a tech blog post up from a writer who visited the nearby Redmond campus of the software giant, for a look at a different spin on the multi-touch Surface concept.

It’s a silver ball that multiple users can fiddle with at the same time, the point of which largely escapes poor, clueless me. It has the usual satellite image of the world (which you can spin! … Whee!!!), photos you can stretch and slide around, and so on.

The Microsoft researcher stressed this is just a test to see what kinds of surfaces this sort of technology can be applied to.

Ok. My dumb-assed point of view is that maybe they try this out on some surfaces that actually have a commercial or consumer application. There are countless applications looking for an affordable solution, like multi-language wayfinding in public places. Why do we keep seeing demos of people flipping photos around???

Anyway, read on …

After months of rumors, Microsoft researchers are taking the wraps off a prototype that uses an internal projection and vision system to bring a spherical computer display to life. People can touch the surface with multiple fingers and hands to manipulate photos, play games, spin a virtual globe, or watch 360-degree videos.

Sphere, as it’s known, is expected to be shown publicly for the first time Tuesday at Microsoft’s Faculty Summit in Redmond. For now, it’s purely a research project. The company says it doesn’t currently have plans to offer it as a product. The idea is to see what the technology can do, and how people will use it.

“It’s really an exploration of ideas,” explained Hrvoje Benko, the Microsoft researcher spearheading the project, during a sneak preview Monday afternoon.

Sphere is a cousin of the Microsoft Surface tabletop computer, already being used in retail and hospitality settings. The underlying hardware for Sphere is sold commercially by Global Imagination of Los Gatos, Calif., but Microsoft researchers made numerous enhancements and developed specialized software.

In a broader sense, the project reflects Microsoft’s belief that many more surfaces will become computer displays, with embedded microprocessors, in the years to come. That view is championed by Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, one of two executives filling Bill Gates’ role at the company.

By their very nature, curved surfaces present unique challenges as computer displays. And in that regard, the sphere is the extreme example.

The Microsoft researchers came up with advanced algorithms to translate images originally intended for a flat computer screen so that they appear properly on the rounded globe, on the fly. They also added an infrared system that can sense when hands or objects are placed on the sphere, to let people interact.

“I believe what we are seeing is the emergence of various kinds of interactive surfaces,” Benko said. “This is one surface that might be serving a particular purpose, but it should probably live in an ecosystem of other surfaces. So what’s really interesting to us is what kinds of interactive surfaces we can make, how well we can make them, and how people interact with them — how they are used.”

Wanted: Complete DS platform, will trade for 4X8 billiards table

July 25, 2008

Spotted on GetAFreelancer.com

We are looking for a person or a company who can supply a turnkey digital signage solution including player exe and ASP server. Player XP and can play all kind of video codec, sound, swf,ppt,scolling text, RSS and internet in different frame of the screem If you have and only if you have this built or something very similar and the rest can be modified, please bid. Thanks you

Yours welcome!

The budget is listed as between $1,500 and $3,000 … for the whole shot.

Your company may have many years of R&D, patents and a professional, seriously good development team, but at the end of the day you may still find yourself competing against something that was written in India at $8/hour.

The job post, by the way, did not originate in Lagos or Bangalore or some distant part of the Third World. The guy looking to get this built is in New York. There are nine other open jobs listed on the site for software design jobs.

I hear all the time from people who slam some commercial, heavily marketed DS platforms they’ve looked at  as steaming piles of poop. One can only imagine what you buy into when you pay all of $3K.

The good thing is that I’m finding, as I am sure others are, a healthy business in people trading up from the built or bought cheap platform, to a real one.

Network announces it would like to make an announcement

July 23, 2008

This had me howling this morning …

A press release pops up about a digital screen network getting political for the upcoming U.S. election. Cool, I think, as even in a down-market there will be a tanker-load of money spent by politicos this fall by everyone from Obama down to local comptrollers … and some of that will hopefully pour into the digital out of home bucket.

Television Network at Gas Pumps Reaches Millions of Voters in Captive Environment

IRVINE, Calif., July 23 /PRNewswire/ — As Election Day approaches, voters continue to turn out on a regular basis … to the gas pump. And political media dollars are heading there as well.

Ok! Ok!!!! So, I’m reading away … looking for word on who and what’s getting booked …

While many out-of-home media firms are restricted from carrying political messages, PumpTop TV is one of the few networks that welcomes such advertisements. Media buyers interested in political advertising opportunities should contact …

Oh, bother …

Anyway, I do think this fall will be a much welcomed opportunity for network operators to get a few attack ad buys from campaigners trying to reach voters who don’t consume a lot of traditional media, like broadcast and print. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing some real announcements and activity.

So Troy, how’s that acting career working out for you?

July 21, 2008

As reported on the Minicom blog and elsewhere on the web …

An advertising world first has been launched in London – pitvertising, reports Ananova.

The innovative new concept uses digital TV screens built into the armpits of shirts.

It was developed by deodorant manufacturer Right Guard as the ideal way to market its products.

A hired team of ‘Pitvertisers’ was sent out into the streets of London to test the new medium.

Passers-by were reportedly amazed by the new marketing tactic – some were clearly impressed; but others thought it the pits…

The screens are quite small, and there’s no in hell I’d be leaning in for a closer look.

Wal-Mart taking in-store TV network in new, much better direction

July 21, 2008

Adrian’s Daily DOOH portal has a piece written by on the original chroniclers of this industry, Bill Collins, on the plans for a complete revamp of the Wal-Mart TV network.

Anyone who’s wandered into a US Wal-Mart store has seen the network and been wholly underwhelmed by the scattering of CRT TV screens, way up high, though stores and long-form spots that really don’t work. The new vision, reports Collins, involves thew following:

  1. Bring screens down to eye level
  2. Build screens into endcaps, fixtures and shelving
  3. Abandon the 2001-2002 “hang and bang” model where flat screens are hung nilly-willy around the store, mostly in locations that are difficult for shoppers to see
  4. Control audio so that the soundtrack of these networks is welcomed by shoppers and store employees alike
  5. Pack merchandise around the screens and speakers, so that the sound-and-motion media serves a useful purpose for both marketing and merchandising just as conventional Point-of-Purchase displays do

The new network will be owned and operated by Wal-Mart, and Collins has the suspicion the early rollout will be happening as early as this fall.

Mike Hiatt, who runs the store media network program, sent me a note to clarify the role of Premier Retail Networks in the new deployment. “While PRN’s role is shifting in regards to the upcoming deployment, they will continue to play a key role in the execution of this network.”

UPDATE: This was nagging at me that I had heard about this before.

Dep’t of Missed Opportunities

July 16, 2008

Spotted in a press release from a small competitor, for an install in a small, midwest chain drug …

The good: the screen is not hanging from the ceiling at about the height of a basketball backboard and is instead on an island fixture down low.

The not so: the little taped-on sheet noting the sunscreen products are 10 per cent off (you went to the expense of buying a screen and software, guys); the merchandising of the products waaay down at the bottom of the endcap; the screen positioning that may actually be too low.

As noted, it’s good to see installs in pharmacies that are targeted at customers and position the screens lower and near (or at) the stuff for sale. But this one is a very long way from conceptually nailed.

Oh, and the playlist includes news and weather!!!

Stop the madness

July 10, 2008

Without naming the offending “leader in the digital signage industry” — which had a press release Thursday about its latest installation — I just had to pose the question …

What flutters through the head and leads someone to the conclusion that this is a great way to present information? Does somebody load it all up on a screen, step back, and feel a rush of warmth? Or do they stare for a few seconds, and then fall over?

The company has a gallery full of these that they’ve worked out with clients.

Every day, a bunch of us slap down prospects who think this is a good idea. The next day, there’s more of them with the same idea about news tickers and scrolling this and that. Maybe this university has an optometry school …

Another question — how does an industry with 300-400 players have 300-400 leaders? Just asking …