Tuesday, May 27, 2008

DSN in the home – 5 Generation DSN idea?

The other day I was watching a movie where the main character has a large screen in her house for tracking an unknown killer. Through the screen she watches the killers video live and has other consoles for tracking the location and viewing other information. This scene set my thoughts thinking, until recently I have been involved in designing a very special Digital signage network that has been named outdu and is in the process of redefining the DSN media business.

The original idea of outdu is to consolidate all DSN networks to make a single internet based network of digital signs which would ensure that advertisers and content owners can access screens anywhere through a single management medium, outdu.

The design of outdu involves many business and technology innovations in scheduling, content transfer, retail response, in content ownership on screens, rights management, screen layout and playout management, managing conflict of interest, content publishing, control and finally specialized content roll out. The key theme in the design being the ability to manage diverse network interests in a single network medium.

As I watched this movie, I realized that the design of the outdu DSN network considered all sorts of networks from single screen to large networks and in commercial from retailer to enterprise to education networks , the common theme has been commercial screen networks. There were specific reasons in terms of monetizing the screens and generating revenue. Also that the idea being at a relatively nascent stage, it would need more push to sell to extreme applications. Some other elements in design which I am sure outdu will accomplish eventually include,

  1. blue-swarming / couponing using blue tooth to engage viewers in advertising and promotions
  2. Local context based information dissemination distribution, for e.g. 1 single advertisement but location specific dealer / contact details
  3. mobile location sensitive signage
  4. P2P signage messaging
  5. Flexible multi layer multi section playout and layout.
  6. flexible self optimized price discovery mechanism etc…

I have for the past few months not been involved with the outdu team though I have kept myself in touch with the progress of outdu and the industry and technology. Recently when I watched this movie and the memories of similar movies like the 6th day in addition to developments in technology that I have kept myself tagged onto, set my mind thinking.

What if the DSN entered the home?

The scenario today is that this does not make sense and that the contraints are justified. Some of the constraints include: the cost of DSN is very high to justify private retail deployment in contrast to the commercial deployment, the deployment is messy and complex therefore making it difficult to place it anywhere in the home, the content is not user centric, nor is the screen of any particular use to the household. What if this scenario changes? What if the design overcomes these problems and the technology environment gets suitable, can we build a Home DSN network?

To think on these lines, we need to breakdown the needs of the household and look at what the enablers are? Some key enablers I list below :

  1. The screen technology has to be interactive and non obstructive. OLED and touch screen techologies are becoming more of a reality and these requirements could be met. This will enable deploying screens ubiquitously in the household without any inconveniences.
  2. OLED enables screens to be flexible, size is not a constraint small to large screens, the screens is a thin veneer that can be embedded in many surfaces. This helps placing the screen in the home and outside easily. Cost is the constraint but size and area constraints are removed.
  3. So the technology is available to cater to the home market needs, flexible, embedded, size no matter, and touch screen for interactivitiy. What about the value to the household? The screen should mean something to the end user, like the iphone. If designed well, the screen can play multiple roles in the house hold like
    1. soft control center for all utilities like lighting, AC fans,
    2. Interactive information center , notice board for interested content and news for the family
    3. Productivity and planning device in terms of alerts, sticky – notes , which can be transferred to the mobile when needed.
    4. Security screen for the home linking up to cameras within the COMPLEX [ for apartment complexes, the homes can have access to some common cameras within the complex other than those around the home ]
    5. Service console for many house hold services like cleaning, maintenance , whitegoods, ….
    6. It could also double up for entertainment if designed well.
    7. Finally the deal maker for the family where the user picks her choice of product interests and any good deals are published on the screen for action, like

i. There is a furniture sale in this location on this Date, category , photos etc..

ii. Based on specific interests defined, the screen can also publish advertisements , feedback from customers

Points g.ii, g.i and the overall solution can form the revenue stream / model

The evolution of the Digital Signage has been

1. 1st generation :: offline screens with local players and content

2. 2nd generation :: Private networks of screens. These have either been networked with central control or managed manually through sneaker nets. These ,networks have typically been for private / local use

3. 3rd Generation :: like outdu, network aggregators where single network will span multiple diverse networks ownership and by content needs

4. 4th generation :: extended integrated networks with extensions like :: extension of space into networks, extension to interact with the capability to sense and response, extension into motility through moving local aware screens, extension into promotional action through couponing, extension into glocalization through multilayer content in whihc certain layers are localized.

5. 5th Generation :: public networks for private needs in the home and else where with personal management as described above.

These are the thoughts that makes me look at the market again, in outdu design the question was how many screens? We were looking at anywhere around a 1mn screens commercially deployed, additionally if we make this a cellular- mobile network then we could look at 100s of millions of screens. The day the screen reaches the home then we can confidently think of another 50 -100 Mn screens in a mature market scenario with a ball park of 25 – 50 Bn USD market potential from the home market.

It will be interesting to see who will occupy the space first.


Blogger P Milind said...

Check out Amiga ( an IIMB NSRCEL Startup) by the same team which managed Impulesesoft.


9:10 PM  
Blogger P Milind said...

sorry it is Amiga

9:53 PM  
Blogger dasara said...

lol... and you call it an idea?

some people can just do anything to just keep themselves occupied

5:18 AM  
Blogger Ashwin said...


I came here while searching for DSN startups.

One point got my attention.

What do you mean by "Self optimized price discovery mechanism?"

I'd love to have an offline conversation on many related topics.

my email is ashwin dot r at gmail dot com

10:24 PM  

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