A good friend of mine is always calling me to tell me of his most recent development/business ideas. The other day, he called to chat about his most recent idea: an iPhone app that varies the time it displays for you. His reason was that he is generally late for things. He’ll arrive to important events five to ten minutes too late–which is something he wishes to improve. So, naturally “there’s an app for that.” Just as mobile phones are replacing watches for timepieces, the digital sign may replace the clock as our way of telling time. Here are some reasons why.
Traditional Clocks Themselves are Nearly Dead
I can distinctly remember moving from an outdated elementary school to a newly built middle school. There were all sorts of technology upgrades to the building including a better computer lab, an advanced intercom system as well as LED clocks. These clocks were much more advanced than the clocks from our elementary school–which was nearly 100 years old. Digital had replaced the traditional gear clocks of yesteryear.
Yet another shift is coming. This shift includes digital signage. And digital signage will be everywhere. We are already seeing it integrating with other technologies, including somewhat random technologies like home automation. In the digital signage universe, clocks are not new. Generally a date and time stamp will appear on most digital billboard signs. Industrial displays are built for having clock, date and time embedded into an LCD or LPD. Hence, all the talk of anti-burn-in. To be blunt, digital signage may even replace LED clocks for installations in schools and other public venues.
Integrating a Message with Time is Timely and Critical
How many of you have had to run through the airport to make a connecting flight that is about to leave. How important is the airport signage in that scenario? It could mean a lot, depending on the level of desire or urgency which you have for arriving at your destination. Sometimes when passengers are checking for their connecting flight they may be in a hurry. Having time (and other information, for that matter) displayed correctly on the screen is of the utmost importance.
Technology Integration in General Demands Signs Replace Clocks
Let’s just think about this logically for a moment. If I were to install an LED clock with an built-in intercom system for a school and then go in and install a digital sign nearby, wouldn’t I be doing something that was a bit redundant and unnecessary? It would be like (don’t take offense), me wearing a wrist watch and having my mobile phone in my pocket :) I know quite a few people who do this, either because they wear the watch for style purposes or because they do not like to take their mobile phone out every time they wish to see the time of day.
In addition, integrating an intercom system with digital signage and a scheduled alarm is very effective in a school situation. I know of a couple of lower level elementary schools and middle schools who currently do this. The displays alert the students, faculty, and staff of the class breaks and display different, but relevant information for the times when the most foot traffic is near them.
When are Clocks Appropriate
A clock on digital signage is always appropriate. In fact, my personal feeling is that just about every “standard” digital signage install should include a time-telling mechanism of some sort. Can you imagine how annoying it would be to wonder what time it is, look around and find a digital sign replacing what used to be a clock and not have the signage inform you of the time either? Aggravating to say the least. As digital signage becomes more widely accepted, a digital clock on the display will become expected. Not having one may prove detrimental.
There are certainly instances when having the time displayed would be inappropriate, but these are generally for unique, artistic, or interactive installs–which currently range as the exception, not the rule. For general digital signage installations, a time telling mechanism acts as good, solid, and relevant content.