As a follow-on to a previous point-of-sale project, Intel asked frog to look broadly at the topic of using digital signs in retail and public environments. With an open-ended brief, Intel wanted to explore opportunities for how its chips could be used to enhance ways that digital signage—large-scale displays for way-finding, promotion, advertising, and other purposes—can appeal to consumers and merchants. frog teams did an intensive program of research and product and interaction design, then built several working prototypes of a large augmented reality touchscreen display that was demonstrated by Intel CEO Paul Otellini at the Consumer Electronics Show.
This concept uses Intel's chips and a 7-foot-tall clear touchscreen to create an augmented reality experience.
Digital signage is a relatively new display category that encompasses in-store kiosks, large information displays suspended from a ceiling, touchscreens for navigating a building or store, ambient displays that show imagery or advertising, and more. For this project, the frog team visited several cities that are on the cutting edge of using digital signs—London, Paris, and Tokyo—to see the technology in action and to observe how people interact with it.
At the same time we surveyed existing and soon-to-be- available technologies, and tried many of them first- hand in the studio. We built various prototypes to see what the different technologies could do and to hone in on which ones we would use for Intel. The final design was not intended to be a production unit, but a concept that demonstrated the benefits of Intel’s chips in a way that people could immediately understand as they interacted with the sign.
Together with Intel, frog's team settled on a concept that addressed the fact that customers often need to be more self-reliant in stores today. The design involves two 7-foot-tall foot panels bound at the center like a book. These elegant glossy white frames with bamboo accents house cutting-edge technology to create an experience that people find quite magical.
On the right side is a 70-inch high resolution color LCD that plays animations and advertisements in a loop. On the left side is a translucent panel that store customers can walk up to and see the store shelves through it. As a
customer approaches, a tiny camera embedded in the top recognizes the person’s height and gender and can overlay information on the screen that appears as though it is pointing to items of the shelves behind. This “augmented reality” display may highlight clothing in the person’s size, for example, or items that are on sale.
Touching on the items on the display brings up further details. Information about products can be sent to a mobile phone, and a map of the store can be brought up for way-finding.
Although the display is utterly convincing in use, the actual display technology behind it does not yet exist. frog’s software technologists and mechanical engineers worked together to synthesize the experience with existing technologies. It was a complicated feat, made even more difficult by the fact that the prototype needed to be packaged up in a crate and shipped to the Consumer Electronics Show. Building the large units in our studio meant that we could control every aspect of the design and check its functionality so there were no surprises.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini demonstrated the display in action on stage at CES, and Intel garnered a lot of attention from press and prospective manufacturing and retail partners following the demo.