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2017 was an innovative year for digital signage, and 2018 promises to have even more going on. Both organizations and the public have embraced the digitalization of…well, everything…and they want more.

Displays get cooler

Screens are going to get even wider than they are now, yet slimmer than ever before. The advance word is that technology for reflective displays —full color e-paper displays that are flexible and less than a micrometer thick that reflect light rather than emitting it, like real paper — has made some serious breakthroughs. In the interim, 2018 should see a 42-inch black and white e-paper display hit the consumer market. Refresh rates for these displays still prevent using rich video, but many organizations are taking to E Ink® screens. They’re cheap to buy, cheap to use and mobile.

LCD screens will see much higher resolutions. 2018 will be the year that UHD becomes the new standard. And there’ll be more colors as well, as the industry moves from sRGB to BT.2020, which not only has 4K and 8K resolutions of 3840 by 2160 and 7680 by 4320, but frame rates of up to 120p, and boasts a color field that is very possibly greater than what the human eye can actually perceive.

Video walls are becoming more commonplace in all sorts of configurations, with non-rectangular displays, ultra-thin bezels and more. Expect to see the number of video walls increase exponentially throughout the year.

One innovation currently being developed for screens is the use of haptics. Electrostatic fields can fool human fingers, stimulating nerve impulses that register in the brain as various physical textures – smooth, bumpy, rough etc. The haptic technologies being developed will be overlays that can fit over any existing touchscreen, and add a totally new dimension to interactive displays.

Content gets more responsive

The trend of increased personalization and interactivity we saw this year will continue in 2018. While there are still challenges in creating a truly individualized experience at the screen, there will certainly be advances made as data flows improve to influence the point of customer contact.

2018 will see a huge increase in responsive and automated content. Sensors on the actual displays, as well as data feeds from computers and the web, will adjust content according to real-world conditions. If it looks like rain, ads for umbrellas and indoor activities will be shown; if it’s sunny, maybe the displays will decide to show ads for a local water park or an outdoor music festival. The playlist will no longer be entirely in the hands of the people scheduling content – computers will make certain choices based on external data correlations.