All posts by Mitchell Goss

When is Wi-Fi 6 Coming? And What are Its Features?

The number’s up for traditional Wi-Fi as the next generation approaches

Wi-Fi was once a service free of typical version numbers; those digits which quickly identify previous tech as irrelevant or redundant. That all changes next year when wireless will adopt its own simplified, number-based name system. The change is intended to foster greater understanding of Wi-Fi for users and the industry alongside major improvements in performance.

Understanding how Wi-Fi gets its classifications

The notion of numbered Wi-Fi may seem like a shake-up but it’s more like coming full circle. When wireless began, it was named in numbers – 802.11. Each successive iteration simply added a lower-case letter after the last digit. How that system played out seems counter-intuitive in retrospect, since the letters weren’t added in alphabetical order.

Fast-forward to today, and Wi-Fi 6 is approaching. It’s another step up in performance with fresh branding from the Wi-Fi Alliance. The organization believes the new numbering will promote clearer public understanding. They should know: it was the Alliance that first helped shape the term “Wi-Fi” to prevent wireless being labeled “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence.”

The public will be able to tell at a glance which Wi-Fi their hardware supports instead of confronting technical designations created by engineers, for engineers. Numbering for a new generation is more suitable in many ways, since that “6” may ultimately be the only designation that counts. The very people who created “Wi-Fi” view that name as pure marketing – and the misleading and meaningless kind, at that.

Why we’re “suddenly” on 6 and what it aims to improve

If you’re worried that you missed out on versions one to five, don’t be. You’ve been using them for years under their more laborious numbered names. If you’re curious, the Wi-Fi Alliance hasn’t left the last twenty years of wireless in the past. Each version has been retroactively rebranded as Wi-Fi 1 to 5.

The world won’t get to experience Wi-Fi 6 (destined to be lesser-known as 802.11ax) until 2019. The biggest goal of this new version is tackling overcrowded Wi-Fi channels. A connection might be the fastest in town, but if there’s a host of signals all packed into the same channel it slows things down for everyone. Wi-Fi 6 will offer superior performance when users find their device stuck in one of these “dense” environments.

Other improvements on the horizon are a boost to Wi-Fi capacity. The current capacity maxes out at 1.3Gbps (gigabytes per second) under optimum conditions: an important term to remember when calculating any Wi-Fi’s capability. The Wi-Fi Alliance states that devices carrying Version 6 will benefit from a 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation mode (1024-QAM) which will enable peak gigabit speeds for emerging, bandwidth-intensive use cases. When you consider that the highest QAM in common use today is 256, Version 6 looks impressive.

Outdoor connectivity and range are two more areas which stand to be improved. The Alliance is confident that even businesses with large-scale Wi-Fi deployment won’t have to worry about losing any of the predicted benefits. Things will be overseen by the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 program to ensure the service lives up to its promises.

Wi-Fi 6 comes hot on the heels of major security updates

Version 6 is taking shape at just the right time to capitalize on new standards of Internet safety. Summer 2018 saw the Alliance unveil Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WPA3 – the most significant improvement to wireless security in more than ten years. It makes some welcome changes to current security levels:

  • Private connections get stronger – Weak passwords are an open door for cybercriminals. Bad memory and sheer laziness have crashed many a hard drive, but Wi-Fi 6 will change that. Even if a weak password is chosen, the WPA3 standard should be tough enough to compensate and protect private connections.

  • Screenless connectivity improves – You’re not alone if you’ve had difficulty linking devices without displays to your Wi-Fi. Version 6 intends to make devices – like Amazon’s Echo or your home lighting – link to your wireless with greater ease and without using a laptop or cellphone as a middle-man.

  • Public connections will get more private – Open Wi-Fi networks are all around us at places like coffee shops, airports, and hotels but their security leaves a lot to be desired. Since anyone can connect, whatever we view can be seen by others and intercepted. Version 6 comes with individualized data encryption, automatically layering your viewing with enhanced security.

There’s more to learn on the Wi-Fi Alliance site, where you’ll find detailed whitepapers and a closer look at Wi-Fi then, now, and tomorrow. Today is the perfect time to make Wi-Fi’s evolving capabilities part of your retail strategy. Faster, stronger, and safer wireless means your marketing message can reach more people, more reliably with the right digital displays.

Modern digital signage is fully customizable, instantly responsive and all controlled by you from a central location. We’ve helped some major names across nine industry sectors create the perfect interactive solutions to put them in the public eye. Call us at 888.260.7291 today to learn how we can do it for you.

 

At Zero-In we’re passionate about creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or click the contact form on the bottom right of any page.

Zero-In on the Road

September and October were busy and exciting months for Zero-In! Between mid-September and late October ZI team members exhibited at conferences to showcase our digital solutions.
  • September 23 – 25th ABA Marketing Baltimore, Maryland
    • Focusing on trends in bank marketing, VP of Sales Mitch, Senior Account Manager Stephanie, and Sales & Solutions Manager Alex participated in the flagship conference for bank marketing and retail professionals.
  • October 1 – 3 FSTec Orlando, Florida
    • Alex and Mitch were back in the conference hall in early October, this time presenting restaurant technology solutions at the industry’s most comprehensive technology conference. With over 1,400 attendees, this event gives insights into the future of restaurant tech.
  • October 22 – 23 NEFMA Portsmouth, Rhode Island
    • Rounding out a busy month of travel, Stephanie headed to the northeast for the New England Financial Marketing Association fall conference. Focusing on networking within the New England banking sector, NEFMA holds two conferences per year, once in spring and fall.

Check out some images below!

 

AI & the Art World – A Historic Mix

Christie’s, a 252-year-old auction house, sold its first piece of AI art created by a collective called Obvious. The print, expected to auction for between $7,000 – 10,000, sold for a surprising $432,500. Members of Obvious used a machine learning algorithm known as GAN (generative adversarial network), training the network on a dataset of historical portraits, similar to the one it created, to generate the piece.

AI is being used more and more in everyday lives from voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home, to helping scientists predict when the next big earthquake will be. Now, with the creation of AI art, where do you think the future of AI will take us next?

The Return of Real-World Retail | Digital Displays Impact Shopper Experience

How shoppers’ five senses are reviving in-person retail

Cyberspace gives retailers a global presence with none of the physical hassles while delivering consumers a virtually-instantaneous experience. But (with apologies to Mark Twain) the rumors of the demise of in-person shopping have been greatly exaggerated. So why is there a renaissance in real-world retail?

There are numbers to support the idea of this rebirth and a few that detract from it, but there’s one constant that seems to win in the end: it’s humans who are doing the buying. Online may be fast and footwork-free, but it’s image is starting to feel the pinch from shoppers who want to touch, see, and hear the items they’re interested in.

The figures that make Amazon cheer: Brick and mortar bombing?

The stats on how many street stores are closing shop could be blamed for the idea that physical is finished. Close to 7,000 stores shut their doors in 2017 and named migration to online sales as the prime culprit (some sources cite the figure as being closer to 9,000).

Some sources measure the closures in millions of square feet lost this year, while others simply count the brands that have closed certain locations or simply gone out of business. There are some big names on that list including Toys R Us, Walgreens, and the Gap. These are the kind of giants most would think are immune from shifts in consumer taste, but the stats are a lesson that even the big guys can go under. At the same time, others continue to thrive – with a smart strategy.

The flipside: Brick and mortar booming?

In contrast, consider this recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce. Table 1 (Page 2) shows dominance in retail sales … by real-world stores. They’re outstripping their cyber competition by 10 to one, with e-commerce accounting for many millions of dollars but ultimately only about 9.0% of total retail sales.

The other 91% of purchases are still being made at physical locations. So, just what is keeping these brick and mortar retailers alive and, in many cases, thriving?

Understanding the “chore and cherish” effect

Day-to-day living requires many mundane items. When we walk, drive, or ride to pick up items like bathroom tissue, detergent and deodorant, we do so because they’re things we must shop for. These personal care and cosmetic products aren’t exactly a thrilling buy, which is why these “chore” purchases account for most buys made online. Shoppers simply aren’t motivated by them like they are when shopping for something that’s more personal and exciting.

At the other end of the customer spectrum is the “cherish” retail experience. This hinges on three cores: novelty, personalization, and connection. These aspects are things that physical stores excel at providing – both through the product they sell and the in-store experience.

Something to cherish

This is where the physical stores start to edge ahead. They offer social interactivity that digital cannot. A welcome greeting as customers enter can combine with sights, sounds, smells, and the opportunity to see and touch a product; this experience is valued by over half of consumers.

Being able to see a product is a big draw among shoppers, second only to being able to touch it. Being able to handle what we see is also a decisive factor in following through on a purchase or engaging with a brand. This creates a connection that no online experience can match. In addition, remember that while e-commerce shopping is instantaneous, delivery isn’t. It’s an illusion of immediate gratification.

Physical stores offer the chance to engage with a product and take it home that minute. And consumers still value “cherish” experiences as a chance to engage physically, express themselves aesthetically, and connect with an item on a personal level. The retailer who can communicate with these customers and offer an equally individual in-store experience is more likely to see increased sales.

How businesses can novelize, personalize, and hybridize

This list explaining how to optimize the customer experience from Small Business Trends places interactivity, social media, and relevant in-store content as prime ways to individualize physical retail. In short, you need a combination of real-life experiences with digital ones. An in-store medium which ticks all those boxes is also the most vibrant and effective way to let your customers know who you are and what’s on offer: digital displays.

The most advanced digital providers can develop customized displays that exist for your store and no one else. These elevate your customer experience to one which ties seamlessly into your physical and digital inventory; what’s in stock, what’s on its way, and what’s currently on sale. What’s shown on these digital signs is as versatile as our imagination. If it can be conceived, it can be digitally realized.

The digital in-store experience also involves sound. Tailored audio helps create a unique retail environment, and a wealth of research shows the power the right music also has over purchasing habits.

Beyond these benefits, digital signage is interactive; it can communicate with customers and direct them to what they’re looking for in the store. And digital displays make updating specials, sales, new items, and other vital information easy. A central user interface allows displays to be updated instantly across any number of signs, ensuring only the most current information is on display.

There’s no arguing that these are transitional times for the retail sector. This change is killing some brick and mortar stores, while others are adapting. The physical retailer who can capitalize on the in-person experiences that many shoppers still crave will survive – and beat its competition.

 

At Zero-In we’re passionate about creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or complete the contact form to get more information.

The Future of Wireless Charging

The signs point to far field wireless power on the horizon

Keeping one eye on your battery level and the other open for a charging port is a drain on us all. The ideal is all devices being able to wirelessly charge at any time over any distance. How far away are we? Small steps and giant leaps are being taken every day.

Short range and long-range wireless both have their place. There’s no need for a broad transmission range if we’re sitting at the charging device we’re using. The real demand is for wireless that can provide on-the-go, over the air power across a significant distance.

Wireless charging operates via radio frequency waves and within two parameters: near field and far field. Wireless device charging received the go ahead from the Federal Communications Commission at the close of 2017, and there have been impressive developments since then. It was mid-range clearance (meaning up to three feet) but this hasn’t stopped the field’s innovators from looking even farther forward.

Wireless charging today

Qi is an industry standard, currently at version 1.2.4 and used in thousands of products by many major companies including Apple. Transmitters of 12 types (among them single, array and moving coil) deliver up to 15 watts into Qi-compatible devices and can be powered by USB charger. Qi can be found at airports, hotels, restaurants, and public venues.

Every Qi enabled device is compatible with every Qi charging transmitter regardless of their respective manufacturers. This is a big reason for its mainstream adoption. Qi may be mainstream, but it still suffers from transmission limitation. Powering works best if devices remain in close contact with charging pads with induction coils must be precisely aligned (this is less of a necessity with a multi-coil system).

Resonant charging is possible but only at 45mm. Qi refers to this distance, perhaps over-generously, as “spatial freedom.” Consumers and businesses want more. To this end, there are two companies leaving the charging pad behind and increasing transmission ranges.

Current innovators in the field: Energous

Energous is the company that received the FCC’s blessing and went on to impress audiences in 2018 with the WattUp wireless model. Their revolutionary tech is intended to operate on three tiers: Near, mid, and far field. All three transmission types are designed to be sent and received by standalone or embedded methods. To summarize:

  • Near field – The lowest transmission range (millimeters in this case) equates to least in cost and size. Intended for smaller electronics, Near Field will come packaged with the hardware as the successor of the standard power adaptor and USB cable. It will be impressively versatile in deployment by being integrated with furniture as well as tech devices like laptops and gaming consoles.

  • Mid field – This increases the transmission range to 2-3 feet. It’s no great distance, but it’s still a powerful step; one capable of charging multiple devices simultaneously. Authorized users will be able to prioritize which of their devices are at the front of the line for charging.

  • Far field – The most far-reaching iteration can be connected directly to a device or attached to walls or ceilings. The projection of 15 feet can be expanded by linking multiple far-field transmitters together to cover larger areas. Like the mid field, users can designate the priority chain for devices being charged.

It’s the transmission framework of WattUp that really edges the field forward. It delivers small amounts of power by gathering micro energy beams from the transmitter. Radiofrequency waves are then adjusted in content and shape before being sent to the receiver and converted into DC current.

WattUp’s applications cover more than the expected computer hardware/software and mobile electronics. It can power security cameras, smoke alarms, lighting, electric toothbrushes, and hearing aids. A major selling point when this one hits the market is being manufacturer-agnostic, meaning devices can be charged from any transmitter regardless of the manufacturer of both items.

Ossia and the Cota Power Receiver

This future-facing company won the 2018 North American Wireless Power Charging Technology Innovation Award. Devices with the Cota Power Receiver (a tiny silicon chip) can communicate with a Cota Transmitter which supplies in-motion wireless power across multiple paths.

Devices can receive power simultaneously as in the Energous WattUp model; power which bounces from walls, ceilings, and other objects on its way to the device. For the tech-phobic among us, Ossia assure users that people and pets will not be used as rebound relays. The transmitter has thousands of antennae which helps it select an optimum transmission path that’s safe by FCC standards.

They currently have the edge on their competitors as their transmission range is 30 feet with one transmitter and 50 feet with two, with everything being user-controlled via the Cota Cloud. Ossia is also ambitious in projecting wireless power beyond traditional electronics. The company has its sights set on powering automobiles, medical devices, and industrial equipment.

Another notable company is Wi-Charge. They’re also award winners utilizing infrared to enable full-room wireless power coverage.

The future – Physics and The Airfuel Alliance

Universities in Texas and New York have been at work on some of the issues hindering long-range wireless. Their work is predictably advanced. The layman can understand it as effectively interfering with the standard transmission signal, allowing for an adaptable phase and amplitude that compensates for environmental changes. In even fewer words, it could mean maximum power all the time.

The Airfuel Alliance is working toward making the entire world wireless by supporting a safe and reliable public infrastructure. The advance of long-range wireless certainly won’t be stopped by a lack of imagination. It’s the FCC requirements dictating safety and legality which perhaps pose the biggest possibility of delays.

It may not happen soon, but long-range wireless is visible on the tech horizon.

 

At Zero-In we’re passionate about creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning digital agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or complete the contact form to get more information.

 

Digital Banking Tools to Enhance Customer Experience

A look at Zero-In’s bank digital signage solutions

 

Today’s technology is transforming the banking experience for customers in ways most couldn’t have imagined even 4-5 years ago. Innovative devices are bringing the online experience into branches, offering new conveniences and ways to educate customers about financial matters, new programs and services, and even help strengthen community relations.

 

Zero-In offers many solutions to create a user-friendly experience for all of your customers’ banking needs. From digital signage and interactive displays to video walls and teller line displays, we use state-of-the-art technology to bring a new message to your audience. Our tools are tailored to fit each bank’s unique needs, from remote branch offices to large regional headquarters. The best thing about Zero-In technology is that we use cloud-based solutions for all of our tools. That means everything can be easily managed in real-time and across many different locations.

 

Zero-In Digital Solutions

 

Bank Digital Signage, Video Walls, Window Projections & Outdoor Displays

 

Banks are no longer limited to posters and brochures to tell customers about new programs and services. Now, you can broadcast the latest offerings and news to everyone who comes inside the bank. You might also display logo animations or the bank’s latest postings on social media channels. Of course, you’re not limited to only the people inside. Window displays, window projections and outdoor displays are great ways to promote your brand and attract new customers.

 

Interactive Displays, Kiosks & iPads

 

Interactive is the name of the game, no matter what kind of business you’re talking about. These displays offer convenience by helping customers find information while they’re waiting. Interactive tools can be used in a variety of ways; from helping them set up online or mobile banking tools to educating them about financial matters. Customers can check credit scores, find out about average home prices in the area in which they want to buy, watch a video offering tips on how to boost the value of a home, or learn what to watch out for in a home inspection.

 

Digital Coffee Tables, Teller Line Displays & Drive Up Displays

 

Now, you can better target customers no matter where they are in the bank. What better way to catch the attention of a “captive” audience than to promote daily messages while they’re waiting, either in line or in the lobby? Offer financial tips, digital brochures, or even allow customers to play games or look at YouTube videos.

 

Ad Free TV, Community Walls & Digital Rate Boards

 

Build your own private TV network that incorporates your branded marketing. You can also use technology to build community awareness and let people know about important events that your bank sponsors, from Little League teams to corporate walks and charity fundraisers. Digital Rate Boards can display all your current rates in real-time, with tools that make it easy to update the information on a daily basis.

 

If you’re looking to step up your customers’ experience with digital signage for banks, Zero-In can help. Call us at 888.260.7291 to get started.

 

The Present and Future of Personal Aircraft and Drones

Check out some of the players and regulations in modern drones and personal aircraft

Commercial flights and private pilots have been around a long time, but both everyday individuals and businesses are now laying claim to their own piece of the sky through drones and new personal aircraft. Exploring this new frontier has all the excitement and innovation you’d expect. And there are a series of Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) laws that govern pilots and tech before they’re cleared for take-off.

New advances in drones

The start of 2018 saw drone registrations soar. Over a million U.S. applications for drone ownership have been filed across the recreational, commercial and public sectors since January. Although operated by human hands, drones are classified as a UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) by the federal government under Public Law 112-95, Section 331(8).

DJI is a prime example of a company at the cutting edge of drone tech. They’re thrilling amateur flyers, revolutionizing photography and taking business and mail delivery to the next level. The company’s designs provide high-resolution photography, 7km flight ranges and speeds of up to 65kph. Drones are capable of live-streaming, as well as obstacle detection in 5 directions.

Agriculture, construction and public safety are only a few of the areas benefiting from modern drones. They’re proving their worth beyond recreation by contributing to repair efforts in disaster zones like Puerto Rico. Innovators like Aerones are deploying drones to aid in firefighting and de-icing of wind turbines.

New heights in personal aircraft

Say “personal aircraft” and the term may conjure images of large-scale private jets. Today’s leading innovators are taking aviation tech in a different direction by downsizing the scale. Kitty Hawk is developing the Flyer: a new type of personal aircraft designed to make solo flight accessible for all.

The Flyer is meant for recreational use over water and uncongested areas. First-rider flights maintain a low altitude of 10 feet and a top speed of 20mph; stats which will doubtless increase with pilot skill. The highly-maneuverable light craft is powered by all electric motors which keep the running volume to a minimum.

Interested viewers can learn the piloting basics on Kitty Hawk’s Instagram page. The aircraft is not currently available for purchase and the price is still under wraps – but Kitty Hawk is currently taking applications from any organization looking to bring Flyer to its community.

Current regulation for drones

Drone registration with the FAA is federal law; it’s an inexpensive requirement at $5 per aircraft. The exceptions are amateur flyers and hobbyists who need only pay a single fee, regardless of the number of drones they own. Gaining a remote pilot certificate is costlier, at around $150.

If registering via paper, the unmanned aircraft must weigh 55 pounds or more, be intended to be operated outside of the territorial airspace of the United States or registered through a trust or voting trust. Online registration is only for drones weighing less than 55 pounds and more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) on takeoff. This includes everything on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft.

All recreational flyers must contact any airports, heliports, sea-based airports and air traffic control towers within five miles of the proposed area of operations if flying under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, Public Law 112-95, Section 336. Federal law forbids drones flying within three nautical miles of a stadium hosting a major sporting event such as an NFL or Major League Baseball game.

The FAA imposes heavy fines and punishments for non-registration. They do assess the situation fully and offer education for uninformed flyers; but in the worst instances, penalties can reach fines up to $250,000 and/or three-years imprisonment.

Current regulations for groundbreaking personal aircraft

It may be surprising to note that Kitty Hawk’s manned Flyer operates under fewer constrictions than a drone. The Flyer must adhere to FAA CFR Part 103 regulating Ultralight aircraft. This means that a pilot need not meet any requirement of age, aeronautical knowledge or experience, nor are Ultralights required to be registered.

Pilot training is fully recommended of course, as are standard safety steps and regulated fly times (30 mins before and after sunset and daylight hours in-between). This lenient registration opens numerous opportunities for anyone with access to an Ultralight, and the FAA is showing no signs of making the regulations more demanding.

Regulation for the future

Drone regulation for hobbyists looks to be tightening up, however. Google and Amazon have been pursuing airspace for their own drone programs and seeking tighter controls on recreational flyers who could impede commercial airspace. The U.S. Transportation Department has filed two proposals with the White House to allow drones to fly directly over populated areas and to initiate remote tracking and identification of unmanned aircraft.

Geo-fencing is one proposed regulation that could become law. This may see drones internally programmed to avoid certain coordinates. Alternatively, a border signal may be continually broadcast from no-fly zones and received by both manned and unmanned aircraft.

Drunk driving has traditionally been thought of as a land-based crime but that looks set to change too, as drones fall under review. The tech is advancing to such a degree that NASA has been involved since 2016. They’re in the third stage of developing an unmanned aircraft traffic management system. NASA’s expertise will help to bring order to the hundreds of thousands of drones set to be airborne by 2020.

Further resources

You can access the FAA’s guide to becoming a drone pilot here, as well as learn safety tips and where it’s acceptable to fly. The FAA also offer its own safe-flying app available for free download from Google Play and iTunes.

More competitors will doubtless arise in the drone and personal aircraft markets, furthering consumer and business-use options and marking the coming years as an exhilarating new era in flight.

At Zero-In we’re passionate about staying up to date on all developing technology, as well as creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning digital agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or use our contact form to tell us how we can help you.

World’s First All-Digital Art Museum

Most of us are used to the traditional museum-going experience, which includes looking and no touching. This new museum in Tokyo takes our preconceived ideas of what a visit to see art is and blows it away. Using projection mapping that reacts to motion, the MORI Building Digital Art Museum is being called the world first “all digital art museum”. This new idea provides each visitor with a unique experience. Read more about this unique experience and see a video below.

 

FDA Regulations About Nutritional Information and Restaurant Signage

The deadline for compliance was May 7, 2018. What’s on your restaurant’s menu board?

For fast food, fast casual, or most any restaurant, digital signage is one of the best and easiest ways to display your menu and promote featured items and specials. From digital menu boards and displays to customized video content, there are many options that can help create a better customer experience and increase sales.

But that’s not all they can do. A key benefit of digital is that it can easily keep your restaurant compliant with federal law.

The FDA has new regulations regarding restaurant signage … are you compliant?

There are regulations about what needs to be displayed on signage, including digital screens. In 2010, the FDA added new regulations regarding nutritional information that must be displayed as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The deadline to become compliant with the new rules was May 7th of this year. Restaurants who fall under the new rules yet fail to fulfill them could face penalties.

Who needs to comply with the FDA regulations?

Adding nutritional information to menu boards and other types of digital screens is required only in certain categories of eating establishments. According to the FDA, “The menu labeling requirement applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations … They must be doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.”

These establishments may include:

  • Fast food or quick service restaurants
  • Table service restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Cafeterias
  • Coffee shops
  • Delicatessens
  • Food service facilities inside entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, amusement parks, or bowling alleys
  • Take-out, drive-through, or delivery establishments
  • Grocery stores selling ready-to-eat, self-service food for individual consumption, such as a salad bar, hot entrees, hot soups, sub sandwiches, etc.
  • Retail confectioner stores (ice cream, frozen yogurt, cookies, baked goods, etc.)

The rules apply to foods that are standard menu items only. They do not apply to things like condiments, daily specials, temporary items, custom orders, food that is part of a market test, and some items that are sold for less than 60 days per year.

What is the purpose of the new regulations?

The new regulations are designed to give customers a better idea of the calories and other nutritional information that could affect their health. Their purpose is to help combat the ongoing problem of obesity in the U.S.

Obesity has been linked to a number of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Due to our busy schedules, about one-third of our calories come from food prepared outside the home, including restaurants and food retailers.

Given these statistics, plus the soaring cost of healthcare, it’s probably not surprising that the government is stepping in with measures to combat obesity.

What are the new FDA regulations regarding menu boards?

Here is an overview of the main regulations that should have been met by May 7th:

  • Calories for standard menu items must be shown on all digital displays.
  • Calories for standard menu items that are self-service or on display must be shown on signs adjacent to the food for sale.
  • Menu boards must include a succinct statement at the bottom with suggested daily caloric intake. (2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.)
  • Complete printed nutritional information must also be available, including total calories, total fat (saturated; trans-fat), cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, fiber, and protein.
  • Menu boards must also include a statement letting customers know that printed nutritional information is available (statement of availability).

There are even regulations regarding the size and color of the type you should use, as well as the background color.

You can read the complete regulations here.

For updated information, rules and resources, click here.

Are you fully compliant with the new FDA regulations? If not, the time to act is now. The good news is that digital signage makes it easier to do the necessary changes. One system connects all of your screens, so you can do updates as needed.

If you still need to become compliant – or you want to develop a digital signage strategy for your restaurant or chain of establishments – Zero-In can help. We specialize in providing digital solutions for restaurants of all types and sizes, from menu boards and digital displays to dynamic video walls. Get in touch with us at 888-260-7291.

The Power of Metrics in Digital Advertising

Modern digital metrics are a streamlined way to measure ROI, customer interest, brand awareness, and more. Gathering data is only half the battle, however. Effectively deploying what you learn is key.

The digital sphere allows for precision in marketing that is unprecedented. Spending on digital advertising is almost $270 billion this year and set to exceed $330 billion by 2020. Companies and customers have more ways than ever to reach each other, interact, and generate data. And the businesses that know how to utilize digital data that assesses results and improves targeting will thrive.

Unlocking the power of digital metrics has an inherent challenge, however: picking the right data and contextualizing it are a lot harder than gathering it. The ability to do both is the key to figuring out which marketing vehicles work, which don’t, and how to develop engaging and impactful content.

The two ways metrics build your customers

First, your customer base can be built by metrics answering some key advertising questions. Are you reaching the right audience? Is the rate of advertising excessive or insufficient? What vehicles tend to perform better than others? And given all of these factors, what is the ROI?

Second, metrics build up a digital image of your customer, revealing who they are and what they’re looking for. Interactive digital ads can also reveal when, where, and how they’re engaging with content. Proper analysis reveals audience patterns and trends that would otherwise go unnoticed.

A few key examples of what metrics can measure:

  • The number of new and recurring visitors
  • Where they engage with content, including primary and complementary channels like social media
  • How much time they spend engaging with content,
  • Visits to physical locations through “geofencing”
  • Response rates, open rates, click rates, and conversion rates, among other metrics

These items are just the tip of the iceberg, of course. And combining these metrics with in-store or online sales data can greatly improve both comprehensive ROI and ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend). Further, combining “foot traffic” metrics with analytics gleaned from an online presence can provide an impressively complete profile of your audience.

To capitalize on metrics, know your objectives

All success is determined by achieving measurable objectives. And reaching your goals via metrics is impossible without a clear sense of what you want to achieve. Is your focus on building brand awareness? Generating sales? Gathering customer feedback?

Your goals may be a blend of several desired outcomes. Whichever apply, your ads must utilize only the relevant metrics. At their core, digital ads are no different than any other form of measurable advertising. They operate under the SMART principle, meaning the content produced must be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

Digital metrics enable you to become an advertising chameleon, changing appearance and content to match the locale and viewer. The ideal advertising solution to optimize metrics is one that can meet all the descriptors of the SMART method; one that can be highly targeted and easily measured while being fast and fully customizable.

Why digital display advertising is perfect for maximize metrics

After analyzing metrics and KPIs, a business will often have to make some changes to their ad content (if not a complete U-turn). Many traditional forms of advertising require a time-consuming cycle of recall, redesign, and redistribution. It’s a labor intensive, expensive, and obsolete model.

Consumer engagement and response move quickly. Businesses need an advertising medium that can meet that pace. Digital ads are of course flexible and capable of being almost instantly altered and updated. This real-time versatility guarantees an on-point message in the right place at the right moment.

Digital metrics and the great experiment

Advertising is, in the end, experimentation. No approach is guaranteed to strike gold, and even the most popular ads wear out their welcome over time. Digital gives business owners the ability to test what works with a minimum of fuss. If one approach isn’t catching on, a click of a button can quickly present a new idea.

When metrics highlight who you need to reach, digital ads can be specifically targeted to suit the viewer and location. Upcoming sales can be promoted in advance and limited-time offers can be spotlighted at the right interval. Gender, age, and spending habits can all be considered instantly to increase the relatability of content. With digital, your campaign is always on – and as fluid as the metrics that drive it.

Businesses who grasp these opportunities will communicate more successfully with their target audience. They’ll create valuable interactions with customers and visitors, intensify brand awareness, and boost the chances of increased loyalty and sales.

Simply put, digital advertising can be whatever you want it to be – almost as quickly as you can think of it.

 

From digital signs and interactive displays to customizing your content with full installation and support, Zero-In is helping customers across nine sectors project their message. You can reach us at 888-260-7291 or select the Contact Us tab on the bottom-right of the page.