Earlier this year Icon won an award for its meshh technology that can turn static advertising into interactive experiences. So could it revolutionise the retail print space?
Icon prides itself on bringing brands to life, and as such it is focusing is on helping its retail clients to create engaging experiences that connect with their customers. So, when the company - which already had a reputation for providing award-winning high impact graphics, VM and experiential marketing to an impressive list of high-end fashion and fragrance brands - noted the trend in retail towards ‘omnichannel’ and the shift in purchasing towards mobile devices, they also noticed that this usage was still rare instore. It’s response? To
develop ‘meshh’, in partnership with Curb Media, a hyperlocal wifi technology that essentially turns any static advertising into interactive displays for tablets and smartphones and provides a whole new channel for brands.
The meshh boxes - which are roughly the size of a thick pack of Post-it notes - allows you to create a hyperlocal content network anywhere you put them. They’re small enough to be integrated into most branding and POS that Icon produces for clients. Each box creates a local network within a 10-30m radius, which is off-grid and independent from 3G and 4G networks.
The greatest benefit is speed - the network allows customers to download content incredibly fast onto any phone or tablet. For example, a catalogue can be transferred to a customer’s phone or tablet in a matter of seconds. All this comes with no buffering and it’s not dependent on bandwidth or the strength of the mobile signal in the area. And for the customer, it’s completely free, there are no data charges at all.
Icon is developing the branding ‘WiFi(+)’ and ‘(+)’ to inform customers of the presence of a meshh box, in the same way that everyone now recognises the symbols that designate a wifi zone. On seeing the ‘Wifi(+)’ branding a customer can access a meshh box in a couple of clicks of their tablet or mobile phone.
Once a customer is connected to meshh, they can interact with whatever has been loaded onto the meshh box - which can look like a mini-website. So they can watch and stream videos, read and download collateral, special offers or store invites - they can even play games. The brand completely controls the content of the meshh box and customers can only access whatever is on the meshh box for as long as they stay within its radius. In larger stores, brands can set up multiple meshh boxes, loaded with different content, dedicated to that specific area of the shop.
Icon has built a dedicated Content Management System and Cloud-based platform which allows its clients to manage any meshh box remotely over traditional internet, 3G or 4G. Content can be uploaded at anytime, particularly in response to store and stock data, where brands may want to update what their customers are viewing on meshh to promote changing product lines.
The technology was first showcased at this year’s Retail Design Expo, where it beat 85 other entrants and 18 shortlisted finalists to win the exhibition’s inaugural Innovation Award.
“Clients we spoke to at the Retail Design Expo believe our meshh innovation could change the retail landscape, and this is very exciting!” said Mark Savage, Icon’s chief commerical officer.
What is also exciting is the range of applications that open up for this technology - conferences and exhibition stands, OOH, even taxis and buses. Most recently, Icon has taken the technology to the sporting world and successfully trailed an instant replay system at the Formula E Paris EPrix - which means that in the future, sports fans may never again have to miss the crucial moments of a game, or indeed, can replay and review them to their heart’s content.
Savage ends: “We’re finding that the possibilities for meshh are endless. Everyday someone is coming up with a new use for it resulting in many new exciting opportunities for our clients.”