Big Displays Get Their Day in the Spotlight


by Anthony C. Lowe

The Society for Information Display (SID) is renowned for its technical conferences, but a significant number of the society's membership is not involved in display R&D or manufacturing; instead, they make their businesses from systems integration, sales, and providing and distributing content. This is an area that SID has not addressed to any great extent in the past, with the notable exception of the Investors' and Business conferences that run concurrently with SID's annual International Symposium, Seminar, and Exhibition. In an attempt to address this shortcoming, SID decided about a year ago to authorize two business-oriented conferences under the title of "Hot Topics Conferences." The inaugural conference that took place in October 2006 in San Diego, California, U.S.A., covered displays for mobile devices. The next Hot Topics conference (BIG DISPLAYS 2007) will address digital-signage networks and out-of-home electronic media and will take place in London on March 22 and 23, 2007.

BIG DISPLAYS 2007 will be the first major business conference that SID has staged in Europe. It will be an intensive two-day event at which senior players from the industry – major suppliers, customers, and investors – will have the opportunity to meet, do business, and network.

We chose digital signage as the topic because the electronic signage industry is starting to take off, with predicted annual growth in excess of 30%. Yet, there are some technological and economic barriers to be overcome, so the subject offers an excellent opportunity for robust debate, discussion, and probably some disagreement!

To provide added focus for the conference, this issue of Information Display contains articles from four speakers at the conference. Three are what can be termed mainstream in that they are written by senior authors from companies of very different sizes – Barco, Ströer, and Dynamax – representing a broad range of activities from technology provision, installation, and network and content provision. This gives some idea of the wide variety of companies that are active in this industry, which is moving at an accelerating rate into digital signage from the old technologies of printed media. No serious analysis of the business would be complete without a look into the future, so our fourth article reports on a piece of university research into ways in which digital media can be used to attract the viewer's attention – the first objective of all advertising – in ways that would never have been possible with the old paper media.

So, this issue of ID will give you a taste of the conference. Will our experiment work? Well, all new ventures carry some risk, but we certainly hope so. We have put together a carefully constructed program designed to provide the maximum depth and breadth of information possible in two days. Come and join us and see for yourselves!

Anthony C. Lowe is Principal of the Lambent Consultancy, Orchard Rise, Braishfield Rd., Braishfield, SO51 0PQ, U.K.; +44-(0)-1794-368-366, fax +44-(0)-166-3229, e-mail: