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Intel touts 'smart' digital signage

A 7.5-foot-tall multitouch, camera-equipped prototype shows new ways consumers could find and interact with information at stores and elsewhere. (Think ads.)

Intel's prototype design for interactive, holographic digital signage continues to make the rounds.

After debuting last week at the CES 2010 show during the keynote address by Intel CEO Paul Otellini, the 7.5-foot-tall multitouch, multiuser Intelligent Digital Signage Concept this week is being demonstrated at the National Retail Federation Convention in New York. In addition, Intel on Tuesday announced that it is working with Microsoft to develop an open-standards platform for digital signage applications.

On-location digital signs based on the technology could change the way consumers find and interact with information at stores, banks, and hotels, Intel said.

Interactive digital sign from Intel and Microsoft
Interactive digital sign from Intel and Microsoft Intel

In effect, such signs would bring something of an online experience to the brick-and-mortar world. The Intel prototype is designed to let retail customers touch its holographic screen to virtually tour a store, shop for products, learn about sales, read customer reviews, submit their own reviews, and share feedback with family and friends through integration with social networks and cell phones.

Retail outlets could use the digital sign to show realistic maps of each aisle of the store, and then display coupons or sales promotions next to images of different products.

But the sign offers more than just one-way communications. Using built-in cameras and image analysis, the display could determine a consumer's gender, approximate age, the clothes he or she is wearing, the time of day, and other factors to tailor ads and other content specifically to that consumer. By figuring out a person's size, it could show ads only for clothes that would fit.

Of course, advertisers could also use the digital signage to get immediate feedback on how consumers respond to their ads.

Addressing potential privacy concerns, Intel said that its system would anonymously send data on consumers to advertisers.

"We designed the Intel Intelligent Digital Signage Concept to show that retailers can engage and interact with consumers in a more personal and compelling manner through new usage models such as augmented reality and interactive product explorations, which in turn could yield an increase in revenue and customer loyalty," said Joe Jensen, general manager of Intel Embedded Computing Division, in a statement.

To run the digital signs, which use Intel's Core i7 processors, Intel turned to Microsoft for a version of its Windows Embedded Standard 2011 software optimized for digital signage technology. That platform is expected to be available in the second quarter of the year.