How digital menu boards help drive restaurant sales

Cutting edge visual displays and content creation and management systems were showcased last week at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas. For restaurants, the largest takeaways included a look behind best practices and usage at Dairy Queen and Wendy’s, where operators said digital menu boards and supporting technologies have increased sales, helped drive consumers to specific, margin-friendly items and helped inventory management. “I get goose bumps thinking about it,” said Sue Culver, vice president of retail merchandising for International Dairy Queen, while discussing the potential of digital signage to more easily manage the presentation and promotion of 47 different menu types that exist for the chain’s DQ Grill & Chill, Brazier and “Limited” concept variations. Read full article here:

Kaleidescape in breach of contract with DVD Copy Control Association

Kaleidescapes movie servers allow user to copy DVD (but not Blu-ray) content to their server’s hard disk for playback with the Media Server. Even though this content cannot be copied to another location, the  DVD CCA claims this is in breach of its contract with the DVD CCA. Kaleidescape and its agents and distributors cannot continue to sell the product and the courts agree. Moreover, Kaleidescape cannot provide any support related to the Content Scramble System (CSS) copy-protection scheme. If this becomes a legal precedent, the DVD CCA could go after any vendor that creates a product allowing the ripping of DVD’s. This could be the shot in the arm that Project Phenix and UltraViolet need. Ultraviolet allows a digital copy to be freely copied and played on registered players and the new Project Phenix will create and license solutions that secure high definition and other premium copyright-protected content on local and portable hard drives, and flash memory products such as USB flash drives, SD™ cards and solid state disk drives (SSDs). Of course, industry-wide buy would be required and two big players (Apple and Disney) are not on-board. In related news Walmart today announced its new Disc to Digital service for UltraViolet: http://hometoys.com/news_detail.php?pr_id=19998617  

Best Buy snags Starbucks tech guru

Stephen Gillett, the Starbucks chief information officer who revamped the retailer's technological approach to selling coffee, is joining electronics giant Best Buy. The 36-year-old former college football player is charged with no small task: helping Best Buy go up against Amazon while continuing to sell products in brick-and-mortar stores. Gillett joins Best Buy (BBY) Monday as president of the company's digital business, including its online stores, as well as replicating the information-systems responsibilities he held at Starbucks (SBUX). At the Seattle coffee company Gillett was instrumental in offering free wireless Internet service to customers as well as allowing payment by smartphones. The moves were credited with being a part of the rejuvenation of the customer experience at Starbucks under CEO Howard Schultz. In recognition of his efforts, Fortune named Gillett to its list of 40 top executives under age 40 in 2010.

How is Apple Getting its Fingers on Digital Signage?

Apple was recently valued at more than the country of Greece and there’s no denying its success in the smartphone, tablet and digital media market. Although, Apple doesn’t directly serve the digital signage market, the iPad is used for many DOOH applications, but there is an additional revenue stream for Apple in this sector. Recently, Apple was granted 24 new patents for multi-touch technology. Several of the patents were related the Magic Mouse’s 3D curved substrate lamination, but it was also granted 10 further patents related to multi-touch to bolster the 11 it was granted in 2010. So what does this mean for digital signage? Basically any vendor that uses multi-touch technology may have to pay royalties to Apple. In the digital signage world, this is likely to include kiosks, POS terminals, ATM’s, vending machines, e-ticket machines, etc.

Comcast Aims for Larger WalletShare with Cloud-Enabled Thermostats

Just when you thought your cable bill couldn’t get any higher, Comcast are planning to add a further offering—Cloud Enabled Thermostats—to their Infinity Home service. Building on their foray into home automation and security, they recently entered into an agreement with EcoFactor, a provider of energy management solutions, to create a new service that optimizes the heating and cooling patterns of a home and integrates with the Xfinity Home platform. "Through our Xfinity Home service, we've created a broadband and cloud-based platform for security, remote home control and energy management and we're always looking to collaborate with innovative companies like EcoFactor," said Mitch Bowling, Senior Vice President and General Manager of New Businesses for Comcast Cable. "With EcoFactor, we see an opportunity to bring new and exciting technologies to our customers through an automatic energy management solution that works in real-time." Adding Xfinity home with a thermostat will add $40 to your monthly bill and will require an initial investment of $350.  

No Surprises - Aereo Sued

In a move that should surprise no-one, Aereo is being sued by not one, but two groups of broadcasters (including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the local PBS station) for allegedly rebroadcasting their content without permission. Subscribers pay $12/month to access 27 locally broadcast TV stations that Aereo streams via the web. Billionaire owner Barry Diller's, who was previously CEO at Fox, believes the company is not infringing copyright because each user does have their own antenna. The way Aereo works is that instead of rebroadcasting the signal from a single antenna, each watching subscriber is assigned a remote Aereo mini antenna. They just happen to be watching the channel with a remote antenna. Aereo is due to launch its service on March 14th, exclusively in New York city.

AVSystemsMag.com, the new eMagazine has a greater focus on Commercial AV, Automation and Digital Signage

HomeToys.com, a leading Home Technology and Automation eMagazine, went live today with a freshly revamped website. The new look is designed with increased white space and easier to navigate features that will improve the reader's overall experience. Not to worry though, it's 16 years of archived articles, news and product information remains intact. It's just easier to find. Along with the revamped look for HomeToys, the developers also formally announced the launch of their newest eMagazine, AVSystemsMag.com. Following the same mission and format as its sister publication AVSystemsMag.com will have a stronger focus on the Commercial side of AV & Automation as well as the digital signage industry.   Click here to visit AVSystemsMag.com:

Digital Signage Expos is underway in Las Vegas, NV

Digital Signage Expo (DSE), the world's largest International Tradeshow and Conference dedicated exclusively to digital signage, interactive technology and digital out-of-home networks (DOOH) is underway in Las Vegas. DSE will present a total of 42 topics in its FREE On-Floor Workshop Program on March 6-9, 2012, in Las Vegas. DSE's FREE On-Floor Workshop Program runs in three show floor theater areas - with the Digital Content Show Theater dedicated specifically to the all-important topic of content - from 10:45 a.m. - 3:45 p.m. and offers a rich variety of walk-up presentations on Wednesday, March 7 and Thursday, March 8. Click here for list of topics:

Z-Wave Announces 600th Certified Product

The Z-Wave Alliance, the consortium behind the world's largest ecosystem of interoperable wireless control solutions, today announced that it has certified its 600th product. This major milestone solidifies its position as the leading consortium dedicated to Home Control and Smart Energy development. The 600th Z-Wave product is a Whole House Energy Meter designed to provide timely and accurate consumption data. Six months ago, saw the 500 th certified Z-Wave product: a goal that took almost 6 years to reach. Today, the announcement of a 600 th product indicates rapid growth in Z-Wave. What are the primary factors for the growth? Read Mark's take on this here.

PARKS ASSOCIATES FORECASTS OVER 60% OF U.S. HOUSEHOLDS WILL HAVE AN ENERGY MANAGEMENT NETWORK BY 2022

Retailers, service providers, and utilities are all entering the U.S. market for energy management, which will help drive annual subscription revenues from these systems to over $180 million by 2015, according to Parks Associates. The international research firm hosts Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer in Austin, Texas, February 28-March 1, an annual event focusing on new technologies, partnership opportunities, and consumer-oriented energy management solutions. “Energy management is being bundled with home monitoring and control, security, broadband, and video services,” said Tom Kerber, Director, Research, Home Controls and Energy, Parks Associates. “Next week, we will hear insights into partnership opportunities that can generate recurring revenues, reduce customer attrition, develop value-added services, and engage consumers in new ways with energy management solutions.”  

Advert on Oxford Street shown only to women

An interactive hoarding at a London bus stop aims to show a 40-second advertisement only to women and girls. The screen showing the short video campaign, by children's charity Plan UK, is located at a bus stop opposite Selfridges on Oxford Street. A camera will measure facial features of the person standing at the screen to decide whether it is a man or a woman. It guesses right 90% of the time. If it is a male, the screen will direct him to the charity's campaign website.

Texas McDonald's deploys digital signage nutrition info kiosk

Iowa-based creative design company QA Graphics recently announced the completion of an interactive digital signage nutritional kiosk for Jonathan Chan, owner and operator of a McDonald's franchise in Richardson, Texas. The nutritional kiosk allows customers to review the restaurant's menu items and nutritional information. As customers walk into the lobby of the re-opened Richardson McDonald's they can view the restaurant menu and nutritional information on a 42-inch LCD interactive display. When interacting with the kiosk, customers can browse the full menu to see images along with nutritional facts for the extensive menu. The nutrition breakdown provides information for calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, sodium and other dietary requirements including fiber, cholesterol, sugars, calcium and iron. To develop the solution, QA Graphics worked directly with Chan, who owns and operates three franchise locations. QA Graphics said this is the first McDonald's location to provide this interactive experience solution for customers.

AVC Group Launches Global Training Program

The AVC Group, in a effort to provide its international distributor network with a new level of training support, has begun a comprehensive training program that combines trade show, Internet, and field-based classes into one global training initiative. According to Ken Johnsen, international training manager at The AVC Group, the new program was rolled out last month at ISE 2012 and featured brand specific training on the Elan, Niles, Xantech, Sunfire and Aton brands. "Over a five-day period we trained a large percentage of our European distributor partners and their trainers on every aspect of each brand's product line," Johnsen said. "We are now taking this same integrated approach and bringing it to every part of the world." The entire focus of The AVC Group's international education effort, Johnsen emphasized, is to "train the trainers" to be complete experts in all of the five brands' product offerings. "Our goal is to provide our distributors with the tools they need to successfully represent any brand within The AVC Group. To achieve this goal, we are combining trade show, internet, and field-based classes into a single comprehensive program that allows for the largest number of trainers to be trained in the most time and cost-efficient way possible. These training courses will culminate in a certificate of completion for various products and techniques unique to the brands of The AVC Group."  

It's cool to have rabbit ears again.

Largely relegated to obscurity decades ago, old-fashioned television broadcasts—over the airwaves and not via cable or satellite—are enjoying an unexpected revival in the digital era. With an increased array of online-video programming now drawing viewers' attention, companies are starting to pitch consumers on complementing online video streamed from the Web with broadcast-TV signals as a way to save money on cable subscriptions. If it gains traction, this trend could undercut part of the rationale for selling off TV spectrum in voluntary auctions, approved by Congress on Friday, aimed at freeing up spectrum for wireless broadband. There are signs that consumers are responding. TV-antenna seller Richard Schneider of St. Louis says sales at his company are soaring. Mr. Schneider's Antennas Direct sold 70,000 antennas in January, and he expects to double last year's sales of about 600,000. That was up from 400,000 antennas in 2010.

Apple TV taken off store shelves; refresh coming soon?

If you're looking to buy an Apple TV, you're going to have an exceedingly difficult time doing so. As of this writing, BestBuy.com and Walmart.com don't even list the Apple TV on their sites, and Amazon has stopped selling it. Apple's online store is the only major e-commerce Web site CNET has come across that lists the Apple TV, and actually has the set-top box in stock. AppleInsider, which first reported on the news, says it's a similar story in many brick-and-mortar stores around the country, with one Best Buy sales representative telling the blog that "it doesn't look like we'll be getting [the Apple TV] back." So, what's going on? All signs point to an Apple TV refresh.  Full Article from CNet:

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