This week I attended a conference in Orange County sponsored by Intel. It was a very productive event. Although the theme was generally exposure to Intel and partners’ products, I had some mental whiplash that is directly related to making decisions correctly.

The conference featured talks and numerous prizes (which I wanted, but failed to win — darn!) such as motherboards and CPUs, but the interesting part came in the afternoon when I impulsively changed my schedule and attended a class of deep diving digital signage.

What is digital signage? You see it all the time. For instance, one that caught my attention was a monitor and display outside a store that recognizes if a man or woman is looking at the display. Then it shows available clothes suitable for the viewer — automatically. If you like what is being shown, you can touch an icon and see yourself in that suit. That is basic digital signage.

Digital Signage and DecisionsDigital signage is obviously an interactive system that is still in its infancy, and even as an infant can impress (and make money), by influencing how we make decisions. In fact, when you think about it, marketing is essentially applied decision theory that attempts to influence purchasing customers’ decisions in favor of the marketer’s company.

So I took the class and in an hour or so was able to create a digital sign with rotating banners that could recognize various types of people or groups who were looking at the display and display video clips appropriate for each. The total equipment cost was about $1,000 plus how much the advertiser wants to spend on a large display. The software might cost another $1,000. In some respects, the costs are not relevant because they are small compared to the potential value — particularly the software that could be the basis of a small business (which is why the course was being given, duh).

At this time, the QWERTY keyboard pattern might be finally going the way of our dearly departed CRTs. Both had a long run, but I see no reason why either should be considered permanent. Digital signage represents a non-QWERTY way of programming a computer to help make decisions. Currently these decisions generally involve whether or not to buy things, but we can easily see extensions of the technology to decisions about medical treatment, job opportunities, etc.

Will these decision-making aids be used for good? What do you think? Have you had an encounter with interactive digital signage that caught your attention?