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Digital Signage: FWi Superuser Conference Highlights

By: Teresa Jennings

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Four Winds Interactive (FWi) Superuser Conference held in Miami Fl for Duke’s Digital Signage Service. This was a great opportunity to get a ‘sneak peek’ at their next major release, along with customer presentations on how they’re using the service and hurdles they’ve had to overcome.

The next major release for FWi is scheduled to be released later this year. It offers a lot of new and enhanced functionality that will help us improve on our digital signage service offered here at Duke. In addition, FWi is offering us the opportunity to beta test the new release when it’s available.  This is an exciting opportunity for the digital signage users to get a hands-on view of the new features and enhancements and to help plan what’s next.

In addition to the announcement of the next major release, many areas of growing popularity were also discussed. Video walls have always had the ability to grab attention, to generate that ‘Wow factor’, however, these walls have typically been square. One way to take this to the next level is through abstract or mosaic walls. These are usually smaller screens, high resolution and can be interactive.
One challenge of abstract/mosaic video walls is with mounting. The Peerless-AV mount gives the ability to attach the mount and then rotate it at 15° increments from 0°–360° to the desired angle for easy placement and servicing.
Peerless-AV model DS-VWM770
Peerless-AV model DS-VWM770
Ambient lighting is a subtle way to also take the video wall to the next level. The video wall shown below not only adds ambient lighting behind the displays, but the lighting also changes colors to highlight each display as the images change.
We’ve had inquiries in the past with outdoor display considerations. Most challenges with outdoor displays are with the touch being susceptible to direct sunlight, the heat, and readability in sunlight. One vendor that was mentioned that has overcome these challenges is VertiGo. These displays are currently being used by Tanger Outlets right here in North Carolina.
VertiGo Totem - 72 inch LCD, Sunlight Readable Outdoor Rugged, Multi-Touch Interactive
VertiGo Totem – 72 inch LCD, Sunlight Readable Outdoor Rugged, Multi-Touch Interactive


One area of concern for most people when interacting with public surfaces, like an interactive touch display, are germs. One, you don’t know how many people have touched it before you, and two, when was the last time someone touched it. EcoActive Surfaces, Inc has developed an antimicrobial coating activated by low light called OxiTitan.


Customer Usages and Lessons Learned

Even though most customers at the conference were either in retail or the transportation industry, they presented challenges they’ve had to overcome along with current usages. Now of course their targeted audience is a bit different from higher education, but a couple of areas did stand out as areas that we could possibly expand on here at Duke.

Example 1

One thing that seemed to be consistent with most customers was sign placement. Placement is key no matter the industry. If the sign isn’t in the right location, it doesn’t matter the quality of the content or the size of the display, it won’t get the usage expected. Customers frequently monitored sign interactivity at different locations and heights to determine the best location. For instance, for a particular airline, having a sign at the end of the security check wasn’t used nearly as much as they thought it would be, even though most travelers had to pass by it. Instead, they found it was better used when moved along the path to the gates where travelers were thought to be more relaxed

Example 2

One area I thought was very interesting was the bar code scanner that scanned a passengers boarding pass in order to map them to their gate via wayfinding. By doing this, it would show them what restaurants were along the way to their gate. A future area for them to expand on is to integrate restaurant wait times, walk times and reservations. That way, a passenger could decide, based on their flight time, if they had enough time to get to a particular destination and back to their gate. Taking this concept and applying it to Duke could possibly be a digital display with a magnetic card reader that could scan a students DukeCard. This could show their schedule and map their current location to a particular building or room. They could then send the information to their mobile device via a QR code or email, which would enable them to take the information with them.

Example 3

Another customer, a popular mid-western retail store, focused on sales and ROI. They basically were able to prove that by having digital displays in their stores for particular items, sales of those items increased. One thing I found interesting was that based on content, items sold better. For example, slides with simple animation or video grabbed customers attention better than non-animated slides. This may be something to consider when creating content for both public and private areas.

Example 4

A turn-key company for computer & A/V Rental, uses digital signage in a different way than most other customers. They custom build signs for trade shows, corporate events and conventions.

  1. They set up device charging stations with a digital display above it. They know that for at least five or ten minutes while a device is charging, they have the customer’s attention. I know charging stations have been discussed in the past for different public areas here at Duke, and if implemented, it may be worth while to consider a digital display with it.
  2. Some of their displays were in ‘movable’ kiosks. Now of course we wouldn’t want displays on wheels that could be wheeled away by just anyone, but possibly having a digital sign that can be moved to strategic locations, both inside and out, for certain types of events could be helpful. For example, graduation, sporting events, the start of a new semester where students are trying to find a class or dorm, walking distance from a current location to a different location on campus, wayfinding for the entire campus instead of just a building, etc.


Whether you’re a user of digital signage or you’d like to become a user, there are many possibilities using Digital Signage. To learn more about the service,  request an account, or have questions, see the Duke Digital Signage website.


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