Back Rubs For EA Staff

Today we had an unexpected and delightful gift.  Our benefits provider, The Advisors Group out of Chicago, sent over a chiropractor and staff with chair massages for all of our employees. The Kenwood Family Chiropractic folks did a great job.  It was a great back massage delivered on a set of massage chairs in our larger conference room.  Some employees of Electronic Art now have some high expectations of what we should be providing to them. 

I want to thank Charles Cooper of the Advisors Group for the very nice gift to Electronic Art.  What a special way to say thanks for your business.   Now, back to the computer and my bad posture.

IBM Financing Makes It Easy To Invest Now

With the credit crisis and market volatility, you may be holding off on purchasing hardware right now, but IBM Global Financing is making it easy for our customers to buy with a 3 month deferral on payment, or a leasing program that can give you a low monthly rate.  Leasing is great because you can expense the costs each year in full, versus depreciating the capital purchase over 5-7 years.  And you can always upgrade at the end of the lease, which is useful with technology.

See IBM’s announcment and details here:

http://www-03.ibm.com/financing/partner/promotions/esa.html 

So if you are thinking of purchasing or leasing kiosk technology, contact Tim or Rob at Electronic Art and we will walk you through the process, and help make the financing easy.

From the article, benefits of leasing:

Client benefits
  • Leasing reduces risk and provides a hedge against technology obsolescence
  • Leasing offers payment and term flexibility tailored to match either project or revenue-generation milestones
  • Leasing preserves cash and credit lines for more strategic investments such as facilities expansion, increased research and development, sales force expansion or receivables financing
  • Leasing enables more acquisitions within their current budget
  • Leasing accelerates implementation of economically attractive new technologies
  • Leasing reduces total cost of ownership and improves price-performance Leasing improves key financial measurements such as return on assets or debt-to-equity ratios

New Partnership with SAMSUNG for Digital Signage

We are proud to announce a new partnership with Samsung for digital signage components such as their commercial LCD and plasma screens.  Sizes from 32″ to 57″ LCD screens and Samsung even has 70″ and 82″ LCD panels. But you had better bring the budget for those sizes!  Most digital signage falls within the 40″ or 46″ sizes.  Samsung has models with ultra thin bezels around the glass that are not only sleeker looking, but also allow you to put several together for a video wall that have nearly no black borders to draw attention to your message.

Many sizes include options for built in digital content players from Samsung for an integrated approach so you don’t have to have separate PC’s to playback your message. The built in players run Windows XP Embedded, which is a smaller commercial version of Windows XP that gives a very stable environment not made for consumers. And Samsung offers a content management tool called Magic Info Pro to allow the content to be managed across the network for a homogeneous solution. Using their built-in player pc’s allow for a total package with fewer cables, better security and a cleaner installation.  Some of the special features include: lamp error detection, brightness sensor, temperature sensor, built-in fan and more depending on the models.

Contact myself or Rob Brinkmeyer for more information on Samsung products or any of the other digital signage products we offer with our custom digital signage content.  Once you get the hardware, you need custom messaging that is on brand and on target, and that is what Electronic Art can do for you… the total package.

An Event Apart Chicago

Chris and I were fortunate enough to be attendees at the sold out conference last week. The event, which covers everything to do with web design, featured some of biggest heavyweights in the field. What I enjoyed most is unlike other conferences I’ve attended in the past, this conference wasn’t too focused on inspiration or selling software, it truly covered a broad range of topics.

We are both really excited about applying what we learned to our current and upcoming projects, and sharing what we can with our team that was unable to attend. I for one am excited to adapt some of the brainstorming/problem solving skills and user interface tips. Borrowing words from a famous chef, we will be cranking up our work a notch.

One final detail, we got a sneak preview of Adobe Creative Suite 4 and I am IMPRESSED. There might not be as much wow factor as previous upgrades, but the usability and workflow changes are much appreciated by your truly.

KioskCom Day 1 evaluation

Okay, rather than try to write another version of the same review, I’m going to point you to my other blog at www.Kiosk-Blog.com  for a photo and quick synopsis of the show yesterday.  I have to catch a cab to get to the convention center for day two!

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EA is at KioskCom & AnEventApart this week

This week is an odd week where many staff members are not in the office at Electronic Art.  Myself and Rob Brinkmeyer will be exhibiting at www.KioskCom.com , an industry trade show for kiosks, digital signage and everything related.  Come see us in NYC and see our kiosk & digital signage hardware and software services.

Also, Chris and Erik are in Chicago at www.aneventapart.comfor web design listening to notable industry speakers such as Jeffrey Zeldman, Eric Meyer, Cameron Moll and many others.  It’s a total geek fest from what I can tell.  Chris is making updates to Twitter throughout the conferences, his remarksare a crackup.  Sounds like a sea of Apple fans.  Not that we are not fans, Erik is a Mac head here in our office.  I just think it is funny that design happens on Macs and the world reads web pages primarily on Windows.  Such is the world for now, unless Apple can gain more market share!   (Go APPL, I own your stock in my retirement…)

I will also keep my Twitter & Facebook pages updated throughout KioskCom.  And we will hopefully be able to update this blog with some interesting show information.   Gotta go pack and catch an early flight to Manhattan.  Later!

Purpose Driven Brands

This morning I attended a seminar on purpose driven brands that was put on by the University of Cincinnati college of business.  It had great speakers such as Dr. Nancy Zimpher, the president of UC, the Keynote speaker was Jim Stengel who is the Global Marketing Officer of P&G, and a panel discussion by Dr. Fritz Russ (Dept. of Marketing for UC), Ms. Kathy Selker, CEO of Northlich, Jim Sluzewski, VP for corporate communications for Macy’s, Walter Solomon, VP and CGO for Ashland, and finally Dr. Chris Allen, professor of marketing at UC.  I found Jim Stengel’s insights into creating a purpose driven brand to be refreshing, and well done.  It wasn’t earth shattering, as I have learned much of this before, but it did put in in perspective from P&G’s point of view by sharing anecdotal stories of P&G Brands.

Some of the main points from Jim included: Continue reading

New BlackBerry Storm Mobile Phone Announced

This week RIM and Verizon announced the new BlackBerry Storm phone which will be available this holiday season from Verizon.  This phone is truly an amazing touch screen device, similar to the Apple Iphone, but it takes it to the next level.  I’ve been waiting for this device to launch for some time, as Verizon and RIM are both clients of Electronic Art.   And I just bought some RIM stock last week while stocks were plummeting in the current financial crisis, mostly because I was certain that the new phone would lift their stocks in the coming years, much like the Iphone did for my Apple stocks.  The thing I like about the new Storm from BlackBerry is that it has more than a touch interface, it has a touch and click interface. 

One of the things I don’t like about the Iphone is the lack of ability to copy and paste text from emails, which I do quite often on my BlackBerry Curve in the course of a business day.  The  new Storm retains many of the great BlackBerry OS features such as cut & paste, and has shortcut keys on the side of the phone which are really handy.  I was just musing the other day that Apple needs something like that for contextual menus on the Iphone to make me happy (admittedly not an easy thing to do).  

At Electronic Art, we developed a BlackBerry phone app for Verizon Wireless to use at events, as well as related web and kiosk interfaces.  We are excited about the new phone hardware and can’t wait to get our hands on one to re-design the app for the new devices.  This phone may put a real hurting on Apple’s Iphone market, but it will certainly make current BlackBerry users very, very happy!

See a write up about the new phone at CNET at this link.  Do you have an opinion on this or the Iphone?  Write a comment below and share your thoughts.

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Electronic Art Furthers “Passage to Freedom” Tourism Initiative with Installation of Two Interactive Kiosks

Statewide Ohio Underground Railroad Tourism Program Underway

CINCINNATI – Electronic Art (www.ElectronicArt.com), an interactive agency specializing in custom kiosk software, kiosk hardware and integrated Web sites, recently installed interactive kiosks and custom-designed software at the Ohio Historical Society building in Columbus, Ohio, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati.

These two kiosks are part of the “Passage to Freedom” initiative, which promotes tourism to historical sites throughout the state that relate to the Underground Railroad. Visitors can access detailed information about the site and its history using touch screen interfaces, simple navigation, and focused content. Electronic Art’s EasyShip XL model kiosks also showcase nearby points of interest and events to make a visit to the area complete.

Each kiosk is linked to the Web site www.passagetofreedomohio.com, and is constantly updated with the latest information about local and regional events, such as fairs, arts and cultural festivities, and children’s activities. Continue reading

New Onscreen keyboard requires a new mindset

Recently, Chris McMahon passed on a link to me about a brand new methodology of using onscreen keyboards called Swype. While in it’s infancy, it seems really cool. Instead of touching each letter individually, you draw a path between letters and a word matching search engine helps to do a predictive text to speed you up. CNet did a quick video on their site about it from the TechCrunch50 show (see below). It would not work for every project, and introducing a new mindset on input may confuse your customers so you should only use it when appropriate to your audience. And expect to have to give assistance while people learn it, but it can provide an impactful WOW factor to your edgy project! You will definately have people talking about your software.

To integrate, it requires their software which includes an SDK that allows our developers to add the onscreen keyboard to your application. The Swype concept is made up of three major components:

  1. Input path analyzer
  2. Word matching search engine with accompanying word database
  3. User interface – which is customizable by OEM’s such as Electronic Art to match the branding of the application

 

I’d love to get a project where this would be appropriate, as it could really add some extra bling to the kiosk or digital signage project. Could that be your project? 

A word of caution: No matter if you plan to use a physical keyboard or an onscreen keyboard such as the Swype system… always consider your customer. What will they prefer, what will be most intuitive and easy for them. Test with A/B testing if you have budget. But don’t let the input method get in the way of your killer app and kiosk’s success.