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As technology begins to change the very basis of a sign into a fluid message, the very nature of an exit signs may be changing. Recent patents, for example patent application 20070203840, are creating the notion of a ‘community’ sign.

The technology being proposed integrates planned retail messages into display signs, through an “open content” network. By the same token, technology will eventually make the classic exit sign susceptible to other messages related to emergency exiting.

Content can be selectively downloaded to particular signs. Imagine the possibility of an emergency exit sign actually tailoring its message to the emergency: “Hurry. Buy New Shoes at Billing’s Department…Exit Here.” A more likely use, however, of smart signs will integrate other detection devices into exit information…perhaps even radiological detectors.

In the short term, “smart” exit signs are already seeing some networking to benefit discreet groups of people. A wireless network system is enabling those with visual impairments to use a transmitted signal from exit signs, in order to be guided accurately into appropriate egress. To make the system work, it was necessary to create a self-organizing mesh of data signals.

The exit light emits a digital signal, reaching a prescribed distance to someone’s handheld unit. Information will help orient (e.g.) a blind person’s distance and direction to the exit.

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Posted in Exit Signs