The IoT: Infinitely More Than an Iota for the Digital Signage Industry

The Internet of Things, (IoT), has already created the “smart home,” where things that are programmable and have connectivity, such as technology, lights and appliances, connect via the cloud to the homeowner’s smart phone or mobile device and are controlled from virtually anywhere. That brings real advantages—like turning on your home’s A/C as you leave work. Preheating the oven while at the supermarket. Turning off your coffee machine from a taxicab.

But how does the IoT apply to digital signage, and what are some of the advantages it can bring to a business?

Businesses can connect their displays to devices that are online, and even offline via Bluetooth. Businesses and customers can send information to the displays, and the displays can send information back. The IoT enables greater connectivity between numerous systems.

Retail businesses, for example, use beacons and NFC to communicate with customers’ app-enabled smartphones. The display detects a customer’s smartphone and shows targeted messaging as she approaches.

IoT sensors are placed on merchandise, enabling sales-floor inventory to be tracked in real time – a display in the back end instantly informs workers what needs to be replaced. A customer picks up an item for a closer look – information about that item is immediately displayed on a nearby screen; a touch-enabled screen allows for a deeper dive. And even without the store’s app on the phone, the info is displayed when the customer scans an NFC tag or QR code.

With the help of an IoT weather sensor outside the store, when it rains the store automatically displays ads for umbrellas. If it’s cold, they advertise hot cocoa. If it’s hot…frozen treats.

The IoT also adds a valuable component to the mix – meaningful analytics. Data is accumulated from various devices, merged into one form, and transformed into actionable intelligence to help improve business operations. Consider omni-channel, which offers great potential to the IoT. Analytics can show, for example, where customers congregate in the store, what they are interested in, what actions they are taking and which products are moving off the shelves the fastest, or the slowest.

This is a small fraction of what the IoT already means to the digital signage industry, and we’re just talking about retail. You name the industry and chances are the IoT is firmly established and growing in the day-to-day operations. And it’s only going to get bigger.