Traditional signs are static entities.  For instance, an advertising sign, such as a billboard, provides information, but that information is fixed, limited, and non-interactive.  Digital signage, on the other hand, employs LCD, LED, and projection technology to create signs that are flexible, updatable, and potentially interactive.  Today, digital signage is utilized in traffic systems, public places, corporate buildings, storefronts, in advertising, and virtually every situation and place that traditional signs have been used.  Increasingly, data visualization, the process of using visual images – charts, graphs, and video – to represent data is being paired with digital signage.  4 Ways digital signage can be paired with data visualization include:

1) College Campuses:  The college campus is an ideal venue for pairing digital signage with data visualization.  Indeed, the possibilities for pairing digital signage with visual data are as limitless as the imaginations of today’s college students.  For example, imagine a world in which the digital signs on campus include student photography, video, and other student-generated content.  Imagine, then, an environment where student reports, research, and creative products become part of the visual landscape, all broadcast by digital signs sprinkled throughout a campus.  It would be an environment where the products of our inner minds and imaginations are projected onto the walls of the public sphere, available to all.  How might this spark creativity, curiosity, collaboration?   On a more down to earth level, digital signage of college events, schedules and maps, could include helpful presentations, graphics and videos as part of an overall digital display which is eye-catching, interactive, and updatable.

2) Workplace:  Companies are pairing digital signage with visual data to provide feedback to their workers.  For example, FedEx employees can view real-time screens that include up-to-date charts and graphs representing employee performance on important tasks or metrics.  This helps employees visualize where they stand in regards to specific tasks and goals.  Real-time feedback like this can be motivating, reinforcing and corrective.

3) Transportation Systems: Matching digital signage with data visualization is ideal when it comes to transportation systems.  Many of today’s transportation systems utilize digital signs that include information about directions, traffic conditions, alternate routes, emergency updates, and other pertinent information.  Imagine a further iteration of this idea: a digital sign that provides real-time visual information about how full a parking lot is and when parking spaces are estimated to be available.

4) Museums: Museums are another natural spot for pairing digital signage and visual data.  In museums, digital signs can include videos and graphic presentations advertising current or future exhibitions, activities and lectures.  Additionally, visual data displayed on interactive digital signs can complement exhibitions, enhance the learning experience, and make the museum experience even more interactive.

Digital signage and data visualization represent a quantum leap in the evolution of the sign.   Today, the sign need not be the static, one-way, non-updating entity that it once was.  Instead, the digital sign, paired with visual data, has become an eye-catching, information-rich, and potentially interactive portal, which can take us to new and exciting places we never knew existed.

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