COMMENTARY

NEC gets it right – for display technology, the age of collaboration has arrived

| by Elliot Maras
NEC gets it right – for display technology, the age of collaboration has arrived

Attendees use a kiosk to experience interactive wayfinding during the NEC Display Solutions open house. Photo courtesy of NEC Display Solutions.

Display technology has advanced at such a fast pace that collaboration among solution providers has taken on a new level of importance. Innovations in display lighting, video enhancement, biometric identification, anonymous analytics, IoT sensors, artificial intelligence and other specialties have opened new floodgates, but call for new partnerships. NEC Display Solutions of America Inc. has recognized this maxim to the fullest with its new headquarters and briefing center in Downers Grove, Illinois, outside of Chicago.

Todd  Bourman welcomes attendees. Photo courtesy of NEC Display Solutions of America Inc.

I had the privilege of attending last week's open house and got to see the fruits of NEC's exciting collaborations at the 6,000-square-foot showroom. The open house, attended by more than 250 integrators, resellers and end users, affirmed NEC's grasp of partnership as it enters the challenges and opportunities of today's and tomorrow's display technology.

Beyond existing technology, the briefing center demonstrates that the convergence of display technology and information technology portends unlimited possibilities for self-serve kiosks. Higher levels of visual resolution can be layered over smaller networks.

"The possibilities aren't even understood," one attendee quipped during the event.

Collaboration takes center stage

The purpose of the open house was to showcase collaboration, NEC Display Solutions of America CEO Todd Bouman explained in welcoming attendees — a message for every player in the display technology industry.

As I got to see the marvels on display – such as a 4K dvLED video wall, digital cinema projectors, large format displays — it struck me what an outstanding venue the facility offers for educating customers and technology partners. The facility also gives NEC's clients a chance to invite their own customers to conceptualize new display possibilities. 

Rich Ventura describes new retail capabilities during the tour as Keith Yanke looks on.

An open house is like a mini trade show, where attendees have a chance to see new products, learn about new technologies, network with associates and make new contacts. Trade shows are great, but the volume of activity limits the amount of information one can absorb. The open house offers a more personal experience in which the host can present information in an organized manner and answer questions. 

NEC product specialists led attendees on tours of the briefing center's dedicated "vignettes," areas that showcase customer-centric solutions for retail, quick-serve restaurants, transportation, healthcare, education, command and control, corporate, and large venues like lecture halls, cinemas and houses of worship. Product specialists demonstrated the different solutions and fielded questions.

Networking benefits

NEC's Jami Milner welcomes Dave Termude, left, and Joe Staszewski of the Arbor Park school district to the open house.

The length of the event gave attendees time to absorb the demonstrations and network with their hosts and with each other.

Sharing some delightful sushi with a small group of attendees, I happened to rub shoulders with representatives from Jelco Inc., which specializes in transportation cases for display equipment. In all the trade shows I have attended, I had somehow never considered the unique requirements of moving the equipment. A small detail in the larger scheme of what was being showcased that afternoon, but one the industry cannot exist without. My chance meeting with Jelco was but one example of the type of discovery such an event provides.

Customer centric displays

Keith Yanke describes the interactive restaurant kiosks.

Attendees got to see a centralized network-based video distribution system that allows NEC to transform the customer centric areas into customized experiences.

Thanks to NEC's videoconferencing capabilities, customers anywhere in the world can peek into these customized spaces for an interactive experience.

The restaurant area demonstrated how touch-enabled kiosks and other interactive displays let consumers browse menus and place orders. NEC partnered with Peerless-AV, Chief and Creative Realities Inc. on the restaurant solutions.

The retail section offered access to wayfinding, catalog browsing, product information, promotion and ordering. A large format display linked to a context aware signage system can analyze the audience and tailor promotions in real time. Projectors can also transform a building's exterior into a canvas for entertainment, art or advertising. Retail application partners include Peerless-AV, Intel, Screenly, CSI Group and 22Miles.

The education area featured a Display Note solution, "Mosaic Canvas," that combines real-time content collaboration with video conferencing, which Rich McPherson, NEC's senior product manager for projectors, said has application well beyond the education sector.

Ellis Miller, left, of Nu-Way Industries Inc., chats with John Potts of Peerless AV during the open house.

A graphical user interface in the "command and control" area gives access to the controls for remote locations. 

The employee office area offers an open work space with natural light that encourages employees to connect with each other on a social level. 

The facility itself is the product of collaboration between NEC and A/V integrator Diversified U.S., technology engineer Engineering Plus, architect designers Perkins+Will and others.

An exercise in collaboration, the open house is not a concept exclusive to NEC. Innovators in the technology display arena everywhere stand to reap the rewards of bringing partners together to share ideas. Hopefully, there will be many more such events. The journey is exciting and it has only begun.
 


Topics: Customer Experience, Custom Kiosks, Digital Signage, Display Technology, Hardware, Interactive / Touchscreen, Kiosk Design, Manufacturers, Networking / Connectivity, Restaurants, Retail, Software, Trends / Statistics, Wayfinding / Information

Companies: Intel - NEC, Diversified Media Group, Chief, NEC Display Solutions, Peerless-AV



Elliot Maras
Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.

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