Build-A-Bear Workshop’s Digital Signage All Grown Up
Interactive displays using Samsung SUR40 tables with Microsoft PixelSense engage children and educate integrators at Build-A-Bear Workshop.

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Build-A-Bear Workshop features innovative, interactive digital signage. (Photo courtesy of Build-A-Bear Workshop)
October 31, 2012 By Tom LeBlanc

You’ve heard of Generation X and Generation Y. Meet generation iPad.

While X and Y are great consumer demographics, commercial integrators who provide digital signage solutions may find that Generation iPad is more critical to their business.

Children growing up with tablets have a unique set of expectations when they see a video display - they expect to be able to touch it and interact with it. Those expectations are an indicator of where the digital signage market is going.

The trend is on display at Build-A-Bear Workshop, which recently unveiled a new store design at West County Center in St. Louis, the first of six planned new locations in select U.S. markets.

Most noteworthy for integrators is the retail store’s use of Samsung’s multitouch SUR40 interactive tables with Microsoft PixelSense technology. Customers, mostly children, are able engage in content that Build-A-Bear Workshop has developed with Infusion to make the bear-making process immersive.

The unique concept of children making their own customized stuffed animals is enhanced with quirky assembly-line-like interactive stops - the Love Me Station, the Fluff me Station and the Name Me Station - all powered by Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense.

Interactive retail display solutions “feel more personal than even an entertaining, dynamic piece of content you might see in a shop window or in the corner of a store,” says Samsung’s director of channel marketing Richard Hutton.

He adds that even with an eye-catching, engaging tool like the SUR40, its effectiveness in a retail environment often comes down to quality of content. “There’s good content and bad content out there, and the guys that put the bad content out there probably aren’t getting a lot of repeat orders.”

Build-A-Bear partnered with developer InFusion to create content. (Check out slideshow for unique content implementations.)

Lessons for Integrators

Interactive digital signage isn’t easy, Samsung’s Hutton emphasizes. As proud as he is of the SUR40, “Without the content, the installation and all that good stuff, it’s just a really, really expensive coffee table.”

As such, Samsung sees the commercial integrator channel as critical for adding value and leveraging the SUR40. The manufacturer recently partnered with distributor Almo Professional A/V to offer free certification training for the Samsung SUR40 on a five-city training tour [running October and November; click for schedule—Editor’s note: An additional stop has been added in Reston, Va,  Jan 24, Microsoft Training Center].

“These Almo solution providers are already doing this type of counsel,” Hutton says. “Almo signup has been very, very swift [in part because] we have a new business solution they can bring to their clients.”

Training on the SUR40 shouldn’t be difficult for qualified commercial integrators, Hutton says. “I don’t think there is anything particularly strenuous as far as the skill set these guys already have.”

After completing the Almo/Samsung training, Hutton says integrators should immediately be able to offer the SUR40 solution to clients, but he adds one caveat: “It’s really about the content. Guys that haven’t evolved that part of their business will be in trouble. So yeah, as long as they’ve got the right content.”

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About the author

Tom LeBlanc - Editor-in-Chief, CI,
Tom has been covering electronics integration since 2003. Prior to being named editor-in-chief of CI, he was senior writer and managing editor of CE Pro. Before that, he wrote for the sports department of the Boston Herald. Migrating to magazines, he was a staff editor for a golf publication and an outdoor sports publication. Follow him on Twitter @leblanctom.
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