Amscreen has brokered a partnership with electronics giant Sharp to create what chief executive Simon Sugar believes will be, the "first truly affordable and scalable outdoor digital screen solutions" for anyone interested in the out of home space.
The new exclusive deal between Amscreen and Sharp will enable the roll-out of technically advanced, large screen digital display screens by the end of 2014.
Unlike Amscreen’s current network of smaller digital screens operating at point of sale throughout Tesco’s petrol stations, as well as retailers such as WHSmith, Londis and Spar, the new screens will be available for any outdoor company to acquire.
The screens will be six-sheets, best known for being the size of traditional bus stop posters, and can be used within bus shelters and roadside sites, as well as windows and other indoor sites and shopping centres.
Using Amscreen’s patented networking and content delivery systems, the "plug and play" screens promise to make a fully connected and scalable network an affordable reality for both existing and potential outdoor players.
Chief executive Sugar told Media Week: "Other specialists have created bespoke digital screens, but costs to entry remain high, and so networks have to-date always been limited.
"Amscreen’s exclusive new partnership with Sharp will provide our advanced technology and economies of scale in production to create the first truly affordable and scalable digital outdoor screen solutions for anyone interested in the out of home space."
"The launch of our digital six sheet offering is a key milestone in the industry. Until now, no product has been designed specifically for the large scale needs of existing and potential users of digital signage."
The new Amscreen and Sharp produced screens are currently in the prototype stage, but Sugar said initial feedback from potential customers has been "fantastic" and the screens will be available in the marketplace "towards the end of the year".
The new format screens will all have the option of embedding Amscreen's face tracking OptimEyes audience measurement technology at a premium, or can simply be used as off-the-peg, digital screens.
The deal follows more than two years of development at Amscreen.
David Woodward, president of Sharp Devices Europe, called the new screens "a great solution to the outdoor space", and added: "With the screens set to roll out later this year, we are certain that this technical partnership and our global sales and marketing collaboration will benefit customers in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world."
Digital six-sheets are expected to become one of the most active areas for the outdoor industry in the coming years, according to WPP’s Kinetic Worldwide.
Kinetic forecasts there are 2,500 displays testing the six-sheet format at present, which include products from the larger networks JCDecaux and Clear Channel, as well as smaller players Outdoor Plus and Posterplus.
Kinetic expects the number of digital roadside six-sheets alone to rocket from 150 today to 2,000 by 2016 and then to 10,000 by 2020. Such growth is expected to dwarf every other kind of digital outdoor site while static six-sheets are expected to decline.
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